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How Americans feel about weight-loss drugs, in 4 charts


According to a new survey from Pew Research Center, almost 75% of Americans have heard of new weight-loss drugs like Ozempic or Wegovy, and many say that they can help people with obesity lose weight. But respondents had much more modest expectations about how the drugs will impact obesity rates in the United States overall. 

How Americans view weight-loss drugs

For the survey, researchers asked 10,133 U.S. adults about their thoughts on weight, weight loss, and new weight-loss drugs, such as Ozempic or Wegovy, between Feb. 7 and Feb. 11, 2024.

The participants were part of the American Trends Panel, which is a nationally represented panel of randomly selected U.S. adults. There was also an oversample of smaller demographic subgroups, including non-Hispanic Asian adults, non-Hispanic Black men, and Hispanic men, to provide more accurate estimates of their opinions and experiences.

Overall, 74% of respondents said they either knew a little or a lot about Ozempic, Wegovy, and other similar drugs being used for weight loss. Among those familiar with weight-loss drugs, 53% said they believed the drugs were good options for people with obesity or a weight-related health condition to lose weight. 

However, fewer respondents said they believed that weight-loss drugs were a good option for people who do not have a weight-related health condition. Only 12% said they would be a good option, while 62% said they would not be a good option.

Although many respondents said weight-loss drugs could be beneficial for patients with obesity, they had more modest expectations about how the drugs would impact obesity in the United States overall. Only 16% of respondents who were familiar with the weight loss drugs said they would do "a great deal" or "quite a bit" to reduce obesity, while 35% said they would do "some" to reduce obesity.

An additional third of respondents said weight-loss drugs would do "not too much" or "nothing at all," and 15% said they were not sure of the impact of weight-loss drugs on obesity. 

According to Pew, respondents' views on the use and impact of weight-loss drugs were largely similar across major demographic groups. However, there was a modest difference between individuals who had heard a lot about weight-loss drugs and those who had only heard a little. Those who had heard a lot were more likely to say that weight-loss drugs would have an impact on obesity in the United States (27% vs. 11%).

Factors impacting weight and weight-loss

With weight-loss drugs becoming more popular and commonplace, there has been a larger societal discussion about weight and the factors that can impact it, including someone's genetics, behavior, and environment.

Overall, 65% of respondents said that willpower alone is usually not enough to lose weight and keep it off. This view was largely the same across most demographic groups, aside from some small differences.

For example, women were more likely than men to say that willpower alone is not enough for most people to lose weight (71% vs. 59%, respectively). White and black adults were also more likely than Hispanic or English-speaking Asian adults to say willpower is not enough.

When asked about the different factors that impact a person's weight, a majority of respondents ranked diet at the top, followed by exercise habits and stress and anxiety. Over 50% of respondents also said genetics had at least quite a bit of impact, and almost 50% said access to grocery stores can impact a person's weight.

In general, respondents across different traits and demographic characteristics had largely similar views on the factors impacting a person's weight. However, there were some differences depending on respondents' self-described weight or by sex.

Adults who said they were very or slightly overweight were more likely to say that stress and anxiety affect weight a great deal than those who say their weight is about right (40% vs. 29%, respectively). Women were also more likely than men to say that stress and anxiety affect weight a great deal (42% vs. 29%, respectively). (Tyson/Kikuchi, Pew Research Center, 2/26; Millman, Axios, 2/27; O'Connell-Domenech, The Hill, 2/27)


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