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Weight loss medication prescription prevalence in the active component, 2018-2023.

MSMR 2024 January 21
The U.S. military has witnessed rising obesity among active component service members. The Department of Defense authorized coverage of weight loss medications in 2018, but no study has evaluated prescription prevalence within the active component. This descriptive retrospective cohort study analyzed data from active component U.S. military service members from January 2018 through June 2023. The study used data from the Defense Medical Surveillance System to determine prescription period prevalence of weight loss medication. Data on demographics, body mass index, and history of diabetes were considered. The study revealed a 100-fold increase in the prescription period prevalence of weight loss agents in the active component from their initial authorization date. Demographics associated with higher prescription period prevalence were non-Hispanic Black race and ethnicity, female sex, and older age. Service members in the health care occupations and the Navy had higher prevalence compared to other service branches and occupations. The findings indicate a significant rise in the period prevalence of weight loss prescriptions over time. Further research is recommended to assess the effectiveness, safety, and use in austere military environments.

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