WeightWatchers rolls out telehealth clinic to prescribe weight loss drugs

WeightWatchers is adding its name to the growing list of companies providing telehealth weight loss management and access to buzzy GLP-1 medications.

Building on its acquisition of digital health company Sequence in May, the company launched WeightWatchers Clinic available through the WeightWatchers app to provide telehealth access to certified clinicians and access to FDA-approved medications.

The company also unveiled a a GLP-1 program offering specialized behavioral support focusing on nutrition and activity for those on GLP-1 medications, such as Ozempic or Mounjaro. The new program was scientifically designed to help support the unique behavioral and nutritional needs that patients face while on a GLP-1 journey, according to the company.

WeightWatchers says its GLP-1 program was developed by its team of obesity specialists, clinicians, behavior-change scientists, dietitians and fitness experts and solves a gap in the market as new weight loss medications take off. Healthcare experts have stressed that behavioral modification is critical for patients to successfully take GLP-1 medications and maintain weight loss.

The program is designed to support members with building and sustaining healthy habits while appetite is significantly reduced, such as ensuring adequate nutrition - specifically protein and nutrient-dense foods, as well as hydration. It also provides movement goals.

“What we’ve seen is that people taking GLP-1 medications need help with a different set of behavioral challenges in comparison to people not on these medications”, said Gary Foster, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, WeightWatchers in a statement. “For example, in the context of a reduced appetite, large weight losses, and a significant loss in muscle, it is important to help people focus on dietary protein and activity to minimize the loss of muscle mass. The WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program helps members establish and adhere to healthy habits while the food noise from GLP-1 medications is reduced."

WeightWatchers Clinic provides eligible members access to a multidisciplinary care team comprised of a care coordinator to facilitate the insurance process, as well as a registered dietitian, fitness specialist and board-certified clinician. The virtual care program also provides medication management.

The weight loss and weight management company historically focused on behavior-based strategies that include diet and exercise and a points-based system for tracking calories and the nutritional value of different foods.

The company has expanded to include weight loss drugs with growing demand for GLP-1 agonists. Ozempic and Wegovy were initially approved by the FDA as diabetes treatments that slow digestion, staving off feelings of hunger. Studies show that people taking semaglutide can lose around 15% of their body weight.

During the HLTH conference in Las Vegas in October, Sima Sistani, WeightWatchers CEO, took the stage to outline how a company that's long preached self-restraint and behavioral change is embracing blockbuster weight-loss drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic.

"For years, we've said 'it's choice, not chance.' That was wrong," Sistani told Axios in an interview. "And I think that we have to be the first to admit where we were wrong so that we can be a part of the change. Anybody who took that as a moral failing, we want to change that and say, 'No, no, it wasn't you.'"

The company joins a growing roster of telehealth companies looking to benefit from the growing demand for weight loss drugs. Teladoc, Ro, Everly Health and Form Health all offer telehealth-based weight management solutions, including access to clinicians to prescribe GLP-1 drugs. Digital health company Hims & Hers recently launched its much-anticipated weight loss program this week that includes digital tracking tools, educational content and access to medications. The company has future plans to include the next-generation weight loss drugs.