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Juniper Journal

How can we reduce obesity rates in Australia?

Exploring the ways Juniper can play a role.

How can we reduce obesity rates in Australia?
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Obesity is one of the world's most pressing public health issues, and Australia is no exception. In fact, in 2017, it was the country with the 5th highest obesity rate in the OECD [1].

The good news is that, with the right set of tools, this complex health condition can be reversed (and prevented). With this in mind, we’re looking at how to best address and reduce obesity rates across Australia — and what role Juniper plays in this mission.

We know what doesn’t work

From fad diets to boot camps and eating in front of a mirror: there’s an endless list of weight loss strategies and they all claim to offer outstanding results. 

However, when you dive deeper into the literature, you discover that these claims are grossly exaggerated.

Most strategies rely on achieving a net caloric deficit — meaning you expend more energy than you consume — but many experts assert that this is an oversimplification of treating obesity, stressing the role of brain chemistry in weight regulation [2].

It was mainly due to this understanding that scientists developed a medication that mimics a satiety response in the brain — the feeling of being full — to suppress one’s appetite.

How does this medication work?

This breakthrough weight loss medication works by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone to help suppress your appetite. Several companies have been selling the medication in various parts of the world, including Australia, and the excitement around it is justifiable given its efficacy.

A recent large-scale double-blind trial revealed that patients who took this style of weight loss medication once a week for 68 weeks lost an average of 14.9% of their baseline body weight [3]. 

Additionally, the medication appears to have an excellent safety profile. Although the treatment group in the study reported a higher frequency of side effects than the placebo group across all levels of adverse events, the groups only differed significantly on the frequency of mild to moderate gastrointestinal events (74.2% vs 47.9%). 

While no one likes things like nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, or constipation, on balance, these relatively minor and tolerable side effects are worth the reward of tackling obesity and its comorbidities.

So, taking medication seems like a no-brainer for people living with obesity. However, not all experts are on board with this weight loss strategy just yet — but why?

What is all the scepticism about?

Most of the scepticism centres around the simplicity of the approach: how can something so simple address such a complex condition? 

And to a large degree, this argument is valid. 

This weight loss medication targets cognitive pathways that exist at the core of the complex set of emotions that impact our appetite. However, viewing it as a ‘scan and collect’ cure for weight loss is short-sighted and potentially dangerous for 2 main reasons.

Patients need ongoing support from clinicians

Weight loss patients typically need to take this medication for an extended period to maximise and maintain their effect. During this period, their body will undergo substantial changes, some of which may result in adverse physical effects (as discussed above) and emotional challenges. 

Without ongoing support from clinicians, these effects become increasingly difficult to manage, which could lead patients to simply stop taking the medicine and regaining weight.

This medication works best within a holistic weight loss program

While the impact on weight loss is undeniably impressive, data from our Juniper Weight Reset Program shows that its effect is significantly enhanced when combined with lifestyle modifications including diet and exercise. 

This finding was hardly surprising given our program combines the newfound potential of medication with the long-understood benefits of diets and exercise.

Nevertheless, it’s important to highlight that patients had frequent and ongoing contact with their assigned health coach to support them through their diet and exercise regimes. 

And this is how our program still functions. Each patient was and always will be connected with a dedicated multidisciplinary team, consisting of a GP, dietitian, health coach, and patient support officer to coordinate care throughout their weight loss journey. 

This multidisciplinary team approach enables patients to make meaningful lifestyle changes whilst losing weight and increases the likelihood of sustaining the weight loss long term.

Obesity treatment needs to be holistic, combining ongoing multidisciplinary care with rigorous data collection and sharing to maximise safety and efficacy — and that’s exactly what Juniper is committed to providing.

It’s more than just weight loss

Thousands of Australian women have found new confidence with Juniper.

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  1. https://www.oecd.org/australia/Health-at-a-Glance-2017-Key-Findings-AUSTRALIA.pdf 
  2. Hall, K., Farooqi, S., Friedman, J. et al. (2022). The energy balance model of obesity: beyond calories in, calories out. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 115(5): 1243-1254; Schwartz, M., Seeley, R., Zeltser, L. et al. (2017). Obesity pathogenesis: an Endocrine Society scientific statement. Endocrine Reviews, 38(4): 267-296; Rui, L. (2013). Brain regulation of energy balance and body weights, Rev. Endocr Metab Disord: 14(4).
  3. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2032183
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