Spector is more hopeful, believing that the apparent downsides are of less concern than the health consequences facing the 64 per cent of overweight and obese adults in Britain, whom the NHS spends £6 million per year to treat (a figure predicted to reach over £9.7 million annually by 2050).
It “could make us think more about our gut health, our immune system, and all of the other things that interact with our food, as we de-focus obsession with just weight alone,” he says.
And for the fad diet programmes – or “parasites” who are “misleading the public, never publishing the results or telling people that their chances of succeeding are small” – the death knell would be welcome. “I wouldn’t be sorry to see them all go.”
An entirely diet-industry-free future may be a way off, though. WW’s new partnership isn’t the first to pair a lifestyle programme with GLP-1 prescriptions: Noom Inc, an online weight-loss outfit that uses calorie counts to colour-code foods for users, launched a similar tie-up late last year. (Novo Holdings, which has the majority of shares in Novo Nordisk, is also a Noom investor).
“It’s hard to say for sure what diet businesses will do. However, if they are smart, they will embrace the future,” according to Spencer Nadolsky, medical director of Sequence.
“If you look at the data, it is pretty clear that lifestyle alone will only help a minority of individuals with obesity resolve their obesity or obesity-related comorbidities [such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and osteoarthritis] in the long run.”
What will become of the diet industry?
Other diet-industry long-timers say they aren’t packing up just yet.
Carolyn Pallister, nutrition, research and health policy manager at Slimming World, says that semaglutide is only “a short-term intervention… our approach includes psychological and behaviour change support to help members change their mindset around their weight and their eating and activity levels, as well as powerfully motivating peer support from other slimmers. All of this is vital to sustaining any lifestyle changes in the long-term.”
The “essential role” Slimming World plays will remain, she adds – jab or otherwise.
Both Nadolsky and Spector, who speaks to me from Los Angeles, where he says adverts for Ozempic are “everywhere”, believe that this new era of weight-loss medication could alter the conversation around size for the better.