(NewsNation) — Could helping fight obesity make a difference in reducing the national deficit?
One GOP congressman, Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona, says it could — so he wants to see drugs that help people lose weight become more accessible.
Ozempic, Wegovy and other “GLP-1 receptor agonists,” as they are called, have exploded in popularity in the United States. While Ozempic, perhaps the most popular, was created to help those with Type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar, some doctors have prescribed it off-label to assist in weight loss. Medical experts, though, have warned against using these drugs for what they’re prescribed for.
The argument Schweikert has been making is that the Joint Economic Committee expects the U.S. to spend trillions of dollars on treating obesity-related illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes and even certain forms of cancer.
By curbing obesity, he says, the U.S. could use this money to make meaningful cuts to its debt and deficit over the next 10 years.
In addition, helping people shed the pounds can help put money back into the economy, Schweikert argues. Business Insider, for example, reports that airlines are saying they could save money on fuel with lighter passengers.
However, Schweikert told NewsNation’s Joe Khalil in an interview that it has been hard to attempt to tackle this issue because there’s such a stigma around obesity. While Schweiker acknowledges that what he’s saying could offend those who struggle with the condition, he insists we have to get past that.
“Once you actually start to see the potential positives here, the hell with the theater of people’s feelings,” Schweikert said. “In some ways, it’s ‘We love, we care, and we’re gonna try to make people’s lives better.'”