(The Hill) – WW International Inc. (WW), previously known as WeightWatchers, announced on Tuesday its acquisition of a digital health company Sequence, signaling the diet company’s move into the Ozempic market.
According to the Wall Street Journal, WW plans to promote Sequence’s telehealth services to its members. WW Chief Scientific Officer Gary Foster said in a statement that the company plans to create programs tailored to people who are using weight-loss drugs that will include an emphasis on strength training and consuming high-protein foods.
“As we build out our clinical weight management pathway, we will be learning and likely tailoring our nutrition program for this distinct member journey,” Foster wrote. “We know weight management isn’t one-size-fits-all and clinical interventions are not medically or otherwise appropriate for everyone, which is why we remain committed to all pathways.”
Sequence, which launched in late 2021, has grown by approximately $25 million in annual revenue run-rate business, amassing approximately 24,000 members across the U.S. as of February 2023.
For a subscription worth $99 a month, Sequence members can benefit from services such as telehealth appointments where medical professionals can prescribe them with weight-loss medications such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro, the Journal reported.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wegovy as a medication to treat obesity and Ozempic as a medication to treat those diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes.
But some digital health companies have received criticism for promoting those drugs as a quick weight loss approach for people who aren’t obese or don’t have diabetes, the Journal reported. WW claimed that the company sees the obesity and diabetes medications as an adjunct to existing offerings.
“Eat what you like and lose weight is not going to happen for everybody,” said Dr. Ahmet Ergin, founder of SugarMD, told NewsNation discussing the potential side effects of a new diet trend.
“When you try to replace lifestyle with medication, it is possible to do so,” Ergin said. “However, then you have to endure the possible side effects, including cancer in the long run.”
The latest acquisition comes as the company shifted its focus in 2018 from weight loss to a broader wellness approach, also launching and scaling back several initiatives such as personalized diet plans that confused members.
“As science advances rapidly, we know there is a significant opportunity to improve outcomes for those using medications,” WW CEO Sima Sistani said in a statement. “Clinical interventions require better education, access, care management, community and the integration of a complementary lifestyle program for best results.”
“It is our responsibility, as the trusted leader in weight management, to support those interested in exploring if medications are right for them,” Sistine added.