Republican Rep. David Schweikert has defended his plan to market the weight loss drug Ozempic across the US, saying it's actually “fat love.”
Mr Schweikert had previously touted Ozempic, a drug used for weight loss, as the key to reducing the US health budget – as well as reducing obesity levels across the country.
Speaking at a presentation for the Four Peaks New Republicans on September 25, he reiterated his theory.
“It's not a fat shame. it's actually loving fat,” he said, he reportedThe Daily Beast.
“We can love our brothers and sisters back to health.”
Mr. Schweikert called for the drugs, known as GLP-1, to be made more widely available, arguing that this would help more people lose weight and, in turn, reduce the pressure on US health care costs.
“Next year, one of the GLP-1s, Ozempics, will be off patent,” Mr. Schweikert told the audience.
“The price will drop. What if you took morbidly obese populations in Medicare, Medicaid, Indian Health Services, the VA and gave them access to that?”
GLP-1s are a type of drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, but some have also received FDA approval for chronic weight management.
One of the most famous examples, Ozempic, took off on social media as influencers and celebrities admitted or were rumored to have taken the drug to keep their weight down.
Some social media influencers swear by the once-weekly injection, despite side effects ranging from nausea and bowel movement problems to more serious health problems, such as thyroid tumors, pancreatitis and gallbladder problems, according to CNN.
It's somewhat unclear what the long-term side effects of Ozempic are for people who use the drug solely for weight loss, but Time magazine says the hype surrounding the drug could affect eating disorders across the county.
Despite growing concerns about the drug's safety implications, Mr. Schweikert said he believes using GLP-1s to control Americans' weight could have a positive impact on the public debt.
“It's just the idea, what if the most powerful thing you can do about the U.S. debt — because the debt is out of control, we're borrowing over $75,000 a second — is actually through health?” he said The Daily Beast.
“It increases productivity,” he said at the presentation. “Populations can participate in the economy.”
The Joint Economic Commission, chaired by Schweikert, predicts that obesity costs between 2024 and 2033 in the US could reach $4.1 trillion.
Lawmakers are still investigating the economic impact of their obesity-reduction proposal, Mr. Schweikert said.
But the Republican lawmaker's estimate of how much money his proposal could save remains up for debate.
Right now, most private and government insurers don't cover weight-loss drugs, which can cost up to $1,000 or more per month per person, according to Scientific American.
The Congressional Budget Office produced a report that outlined that if Medicare began covering weight loss drugs, it would reportedly increase overall federal spending.