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Mount Sinai South Nassau “Truth in Medicine” Poll: One-Third of Metro Area Residents Consider Themselves Overweight

Nearly one-quarter say they would take a drug to lose the pounds

Posted: Mar. 27, 2023
Mount Sinai South Nassau “Truth in Medicine” Poll: One-Third of Metro Area Residents Consider Themselves Overweight

Nearly one-third of metro area residents consider themselves overweight and almost one-quarter say they would take a prescription weight-loss drug to shed extra pounds, according to the latest Mount Sinai South Nassau Truth in Medicine Poll.

Ten percent of poll respondents are currently taking or know someone who uses the prescription drugs Ozempic, Mounjaro, or Wegovy to lose weight. Most of them are women under 50 and Black.

While all three drugs can generate weight loss, only Wegovy is FDA approved for weight management in obese or overweight teens and adults with at least one weight-related co-morbidity. Ozempic, the most well-known brand name, and Mounjaro are only approved for patients with type 2 diabetes to control blood glucose levels.

One-half of respondents admit to binge eating. Sixty percent confirmed they eat two or more fast-food meals per week and 22 percent said they consume four or more fast-food meals regularly. Meanwhile, 60 percent of area residents reported that inflation has changed their buying habits at the grocery store.

The Mount Sinai South Nassau “Truth in Medicine” Poll—sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union and conducted by a national polling research firm—is the only hospital-based public health poll of its kind in the region, aiming to measure public perception and knowledge of key health issues.

Off-label use of prescription drugs as an alternative to dieting and exercise to lose weight is contributing to supply shortages in the United States and globally for the people—most of whom have diabetes—that they were created to help. For example, France's national drug safety agency estimates that over the course of a year, more than 2,100 patients in France were prescribed Ozempic, even though they did not have diabetes.

“These treatments were not intended to serve as an alternative to regular exercise and healthy eating to lose a few extra pounds quickly,” said Aaron E. Glatt, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau. “They were created to manage type 2 diabetes and obesity.”

But exercise and dieting do not seem to be working for many. A majority of respondents who made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight reported as of late February that “it is not going very well.”

A lack of communication between patients and their medical providers about the management of their weight appears to be a contributing factor, according to the poll results.

Overall, 28 percent of all respondents have spoken to a health care provider about their weight. Of those who have not, 39 percent say they failed to do so because the provider did not bring it up and 12 percent said there is nothing a health care provider can do. Far fewer (seven percent) were uncomfortable discussing the subject with their provider, and two percent were embarrassed or fearful of being judged—even though only eight percent of respondents said a health care provider made them feel uncomfortable about their weight.

“I strongly encourage all adults and parents of children who are struggling with their weight to talk about it with their health care providers and work to develop a short- and long-term program to manage it,” said Adhi Sharma, MD, President of Mount Sinai South Nassau. “At the same time, physicians are in an ideal position to talk with patients about their weight and prescribe a plan of action to successfully manage it.”

Other important findings of the survey include:

  • Those most likely to say they binge eat are Blacks, those who are overweight, those committed to weight loss resolutions, men under 50, and those who take Ozempic or are familiar with the drug.
  • Nearly one-third say the thought of gaining weight causes them stress and anxiety. Nearly one-half of women under 50 agree with that statement.

According to a study published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, one year after the withdrawal of a once-weekly 2.4 mg injection of Ozempic, participants regained two-thirds of the weight lost.

The key ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy is semaglutide, which stimulates insulin release from the pancreas when needed. It also helps with weight loss by targeting areas of the brain that regulate appetite and slowing down the speed at which food travels through the digestive tract. Mounjaro lowers plasma glucose concentrations after eating, decreases food intake, and reduces body weight in patients with type 2 diabetes. All three are given by injection.

“The increasing use of these drugs as a convenience to lose a few pounds concerns me,” said Efie Tsomos, MD, Chief Division of Endocrinology, at Mount Sinai South Nassau. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult for some of our patients to get their prescriptions filled at their local pharmacies.

“Bethpage is proud to partner with Mount Sinai South Nassau in advocating and prescribing exercise and a balanced diet to achieve a healthy weight,” said Linda Armyn, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Bethpage Federal Credit Union.

This is Mount Sinai South Nassau’s 15th “Truth in Medicine” Poll and first of 2023. The poll seeks to evaluate public knowledge and sentiment toward key public health issues.

Sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, the poll aims to gather data about attitudes on key public health topics and helps spur education to improve public health. The poll was conducted from February 16-21, 2023, via both landlines and cell phones with 600 Long Island and New York City residents. Poll findings are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

The “Truth in Medicine” Poll is a component of Mount Sinai South Nassau’s mission of improving education around critical public health issues. The poll was conducted by a nationally recognized, independent polling firm, LJR Custom Strategies, with offices in Washington, DC, and New Orleans. LJR has conducted more than 2,000 studies for a broad spectrum of health care, business, education, cultural, and political clients in nearly every state in the country and around the world.

Mount Sinai South Nassau began conducting the public health poll in January 2017. Previous polls have focused on mental health services, holiday stress, the HPV vaccine, legalization of recreational marijuana, supplements, antibiotic use and misuse, and screen time, among others. For more information about the polls, visit www.southnassau.org/sn/truth-in-medicine.

About Mount Sinai South Nassau

The Long Island flagship hospital of the Mount Sinai Health System, Mount Sinai South Nassau is designated a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for outstanding nursing care. Mount Sinai South Nassau is one of the region’s largest hospitals, with 455 beds, more than 900 physicians and 3,500 employees. Located in Oceanside, New York, the hospital is an acute-care, not-for-profit teaching hospital that provides state-of-the-art care in cardiac, oncologic, orthopedic, bariatric, pain management, mental health, and emergency services and operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County, along with Long Island’s only free-standing Emergency Department in Long Beach.

In addition to its extensive outpatient specialty centers, Mount Sinai South Nassau provides emergency and elective angioplasty, and offers Novalis Tx™ and Gamma Knife® radiosurgery technologies. Mount Sinai South Nassau operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County verified by the American College of Surgeons as well as Long Island’s only free-standing, 9-1-1 receiving Emergency Department in Long Beach. Mount Sinai South Nassau also is a designated Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons; is an accredited center of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Association and Quality Improvement Program; and an Infectious Diseases Society of America Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence. For more information, go to www.mountsinai.org/southnassau.