People work out at Crunch Fitness in East Meadow on June...

People work out at Crunch Fitness in East Meadow on June 17. The gym has seen an uptick in membership. Credit: John Roca

Penny Lane Boutique has seen a surge in customers buying smaller-size wardrobes in the past six months, the owner of the Huntington shop said.

Some of the clothing boutique’s regular customers are transparent about needing new clothes because of drastic weight loss with the help of Ozempic, Wegovy, Zepbound or other injectable medications, owner Gabrielle Sunshine said.

Others aren’t.

“One woman told us she had mono. We, like, rolled our eyes,” said Sunshine, who added that she supports the use of the drugs if they’re helping people get healthier.

In a country where of 42% of the adult population is obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the appetite-suppressing medications have the potential to cause significant shifts in the apparel, food and beverage, and fitness industries, some analysts said.

An estimated 6% of American adults, representing 15.5 million people, reported having used injectable medicine to reduce weight, according to an analysis of a Gallup survey of 5,577 U.S. adults in March.

On Long Island, some clothing stores are seeing a boost in sales of smaller sizes and restaurants’ diners are buying less food, owners said.

Meanwhile, gym membership numbers are rising.

Taking obesity drugs can lead to muscle loss, so the manufacturers and prescribing doctors recommend that users adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes physical fitness.

“We are busier than we’ve ever been. Do I attribute that to Ozempic use? I don’t know. … [But] our personal trainers are busier than ever,” said Lewis B. Breslau of the five Crunch Fitness gym franchises on Long Island that he co-owns.

By 2035, an estimated 32 million Americans, or 9% of the country’s population, will be taking obesity drugs, reducing consumption of candy, baked goods and salty snacks by as much as 4%, according to Morgan Stanley Research.

Food and beverage brands and stores will be the most affected as the growing number of the medications’ users change their eating habits and reduce their consumption of soda, unhealthy snacks, fast food and alcohol, according to a November report from Coresight Research, a Manhattan-based retail analysis provider.

The apparel industry also likely will experience significant change because as consumers lose weight, they will need to update their wardrobes, according to Coresight, which said demand for plus-size clothes would decline.

“Additionally, as those taking weight-loss drugs lead healthier lifestyles and exercise more often, there will be strong demand for activewear and athleisure offerings. This could benefit sports and athletic apparel brands and retailers, such as Lululemon Athletica and NIKE,” the report said.

GLP-1 agonists medications, such as Ozempic, and GLP-1/GIP receptor agonists, such as Mounjaro, help manage blood sugar in type 2 diabetics. Since they slow digestion, making users feel more full after eating, the drugs also can be used to treat obesity, which is a cause of type 2 diabetes.

Some of the drugs, such as Wegovy and Zepbound, are prescribed specifically for obesity treatment.

And use of the drugs is growing at breakneck speed.

The number of prescriptions written for semaglutide (sold under the Ozempic and Wegovy brand names), liraglutide (Saxenda and Victoza) and tirzepatide (Mounjaro) grew 300% — from 2.3 million to 9.1 million — between the first quarter of 2020 and fourth quarter of 2022, according to a 2023 study from Trilliant Health, a Brentwood, Tennessee-based provider of analytics on the health care industry.

Some of the prescription growth is due to new drugs being introduced to the market later. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Eli Lilly & Co.'s Mounjaro as a diabetes medication in May 2022 and the company's Zepbound, a tirzepatide, as an obesity drug last November.

Spending on Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy doubled to $38.6 billion between 2022 and 2023, becoming the bestselling medication in the nation, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Spanish restaurant Casa Luis has seen a decline in sales of desserts and alcohol over the last year, and customers are choosing healthier entrees, said Delia Arias, who co-owns the 35-year-old Smithtown eatery with her parents.

The restaurant’s alcohol purchases declined so much that even her wine vendor noticed, she said.

Some users of obesity drugs report that they have less tolerance or fewer cravings for alcohol, studies show.

However, Casa Luis’ sales of lower-calorie skinny margaritas are up, Arias said.

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason for the change in dessert and alcohol sales — whether it's more customers using obesity drugs or a cutback in spending because of the rising cost of living, or a combination of both — since many people are reluctant to admit that they are taking the medications, she said.

Arias knows firsthand the effects that medications can have on health, weight loss and life overall.

Since November, the Nesconset resident has lost 40 pounds using a compounded version of Ozempic — a compounded drug is an off-brand medication made by a compounding pharmacy that should use the same active ingredient as the brand name. The FDA allows compounding pharmacies to make the drugs when there are shortages of the brand-name products. but the agency does not verify the safety or effectiveness of compounded drugs.

“I’m very open about it. I don’t really care if people know that I’m on it,” Arias, 48, said of taking the medication.

Using the medication, her blood pressure has dropped to a normal level, her cholesterol level is lower, and she was able to reduce the amount of medication she took for a thyroid problem, she said.

“Health-wise, I’m a lot better. … Now that I’m a little lighter, I’m thinking of running again. I used to be a big runner. I have a lot more energy for sure,” she said.

Restaurants nationwide are seeing a slowdown in sales given high prices and consumers pulling back on spending, said David Henkes, senior principal at Technomic, a restaurant and retail industry research firm in Chicago.

Technomic is projecting a modest 1% loss of sales at restaurants over the next 10 years because of obesity drugs.

It remains to be seen how significantly obesity drugs will impact restaurants in the long-term, but eateries have the ability to pivot to sell what customers are willing to buy, he said.

“The beautiful thing about restaurants is there is a lot of menu flexibility,” said Henkes, who added that eateries could add more salads, fruit-based smoothies, smaller entrée portions and other items that fit in with the “Ozempic lifestyle.”

Food retailers and food manufacturers are paying attention to the GLP industry.

Walmart CEO John Furner told Bloomberg News in October the retailer had seen a slight decline in grocery sales to customers picking up obesity medications in its pharmacies.

Share prices of food manufacturers, such as Hershey and PepsiCo, fell shortly after that interview.

Share prices of doughnut chain Krispy Kreme Inc. fell in October after analysts said they were concerned about how the company's sales would be affected by the growing use of GLP-1 drugs.

In May, Nestlé, the largest food manufacturer in the world, announced it was launching Vital Pursuit, a new line of high-protein foods for people taking weight loss medications in the GLP-1 class.

Like the restaurant industry, the packaged food industry has the ability to shift to offering items that are more appealing to obesity drug users, said Erin Lash, director of consumer sector equity research for Morningstar Research Services LLC, a financial services firm in Chicago.

“We expect candy and salty snack makers to be able to pivot to whatever appears to be an area of growing interest, whether it’s smaller packages, less filling snacks, healthier options, etc. Given health and wellness trends, the packaged food manufacturers have been investing for years in making their products healthier — without telling consumers, so as to avoid them balking at the thought of an inferior taste — and altering pack sizes to appeal to a consumer that wants to indulge but on a limited basis,” she said.

Obesity drugs' impact on supermarkets and restaurants nationwide has been minimal but that could change if the prices of the expensive medications decrease significantly, especially since consumers are already trading down to cheaper food because of higher prices, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail adviser of Circana, a Chicago-based market research firm.

The prices of GLP-1 drugs range from about $940 to $1,350 per month without health insurance coverage or rebates.

Most health insurance plans provided through employers do not cover the drugs, but the number that do is growing.

As of May, 57% of 279 surveyed employers provided coverage of the drugs for diabetes only, up from 49% in October 2023, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

The percentage providing coverage for both diabetes and weight loss rose from 26% to 34% during the same period, according to the Brookfield, Wisconsin-based foundation.

TandyWear, a women’s clothing store in Commack, has seen a 10% increase in the sale of smaller sizes over the last year, owner Tandy Jeckel said.

She is certain that it is due to obesity drug users needing new wardrobes after losing weight.

“Oh, absolutely, 100%. It is happening a lot. … We have a lot of small customers now, a lot more than we used to,” she said.

Because her store has been open for 30 years, longtime customers feel comfortable confiding in Jeckel and her staff about their weight-loss journeys, she said.

Although she wishes them well, she has concerns about the long-term health effects of the drugs, she said.

“How is it affecting you? It’s still putting something in your body that’s not natural,” she said.

At F45 Training, which are fitness studios that focus on high-intensity group workouts, membership sales are up 8.4% over the last year, said Tom Dowd, president and chief executive officer of the Austin, Texas-based chain.

Dowd is unable to say for sure that obesity drugs are playing a role in F45’s increased sales.

“We don’t know if it’s because of that. It’s a theory. … We just know we’re seeing a nice increase in sales. We can assume part of it’s driven by that,” he said.

What is true, he said, is that when people lose weight, it can lead to more exercise because of the boost in confidence.

“A lot of people now have the courage to work out because they’ve lost weight … because they feel better about themselves,” he said.

Membership at Breslau’s five Crunch Fitness gyms on Long Island has increased about 15% over the last year, he said.

Before COVID, the gyms’ cardio section was packed and the weight training section was “pleasantly full,” he said.

“Now, you can’t get in the weight section. Everyone is strength training,” he said.

Rapid weight loss from taking GLP-1 medications can lead to decreases in muscle mass and bone density.

“Lifestyle changes such as increasing protein intake and incorporating strength and resistance training can help combat muscle and bone density loss while taking GLP-1 medications,” according to Healthline.

A Morgan Stanley study found among survey respondents who were taking GLP-1 drugs, 35% exercised before they started taking the medications. The number grew to 71% after they started taking the drugs.

Not only is GLP-1 use driving membership numbers at gyms, but it also is opening a sales channel: selling the drugs using on-staff or contracted doctors or offering programs for people taking them.­

In November, Life Time Fitness announced that it was launching its MIORA Longevity and Performance program that offers “proprietary, medically curated peptides, including GLP-1s when appropriate.”

In December, Xponential Fitness Inc., which owns Club Pliates, CycleBar, StretchLab and other fitness brands, bought Lindora health clinics, which prescribe GLP-1 treatments.

In January, Equinox announced that it had rolled out a training program for people taking the drugs.

Penny Lane Boutique has seen a surge in customers buying smaller-size wardrobes in the past six months, the owner of the Huntington shop said.

Some of the clothing boutique’s regular customers are transparent about needing new clothes because of drastic weight loss with the help of Ozempic, Wegovy, Zepbound or other injectable medications, owner Gabrielle Sunshine said.

Others aren’t.

“One woman told us she had mono. We, like, rolled our eyes,” said Sunshine, who added that she supports the use of the drugs if they’re helping people get healthier.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Appetite-suppressing medications could potentially cause significant shifts in the apparel, food and beverage, and fitness industries, some analysts said.
  • On Long Island, some clothing stores are seeing a boost in sales of smaller sizes and restaurants’ diners are buying less food. Gym memberships are rising.
  • The number of prescriptions written for injectable weight-loss drugs grew 300% — from 2.3 million to 9.1 million — between the first quarter of 2020 and fourth quarter of 2022, according to a 2023 study from Trilliant Health.

42%

Percentage of adult Americans who are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a country where of 42% of the adult population is obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the appetite-suppressing medications have the potential to cause significant shifts in the apparel, food and beverage, and fitness industries, some analysts said.

An estimated 6% of American adults, representing 15.5 million people, reported having used injectable medicine to reduce weight, according to an analysis of a Gallup survey of 5,577 U.S. adults in March.

On Long Island, some clothing stores are seeing a boost in sales of smaller sizes and restaurants’ diners are buying less food, owners said.

Meanwhile, gym membership numbers are rising.

Taking obesity drugs can lead to muscle loss, so the manufacturers and prescribing doctors recommend that users adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes physical fitness.

“We are busier than we’ve ever been. Do I attribute that to Ozempic use? I don’t know. … [But] our personal trainers are busier than ever,” said Lewis B. Breslau of the five Crunch Fitness gym franchises on Long Island that he co-owns.

By 2035, an estimated 32 million Americans, or 9% of the country’s population, will be taking obesity drugs, reducing consumption of candy, baked goods and salty snacks by as much as 4%, according to Morgan Stanley Research.

32 million

Number of Americans expected to be taking obesity drugs by 2035, according to Morgan Stanley Research.

Food and beverage brands and stores will be the most affected as the growing number of the medications’ users change their eating habits and reduce their consumption of soda, unhealthy snacks, fast food and alcohol, according to a November report from Coresight Research, a Manhattan-based retail analysis provider.

The apparel industry also likely will experience significant change because as consumers lose weight, they will need to update their wardrobes, according to Coresight, which said demand for plus-size clothes would decline.

“Additionally, as those taking weight-loss drugs lead healthier lifestyles and exercise more often, there will be strong demand for activewear and athleisure offerings. This could benefit sports and athletic apparel brands and retailers, such as Lululemon Athletica and NIKE,” the report said.

People work out on June 17 at Crunch Fitness in...

People work out on June 17 at Crunch Fitness in East Meadow  Credit: John Roca

GLP-1 agonists medications, such as Ozempic, and GLP-1/GIP receptor agonists, such as Mounjaro, help manage blood sugar in type 2 diabetics. Since they slow digestion, making users feel more full after eating, the drugs also can be used to treat obesity, which is a cause of type 2 diabetes.

Some of the drugs, such as Wegovy and Zepbound, are prescribed specifically for obesity treatment.

And use of the drugs is growing at breakneck speed.

The number of prescriptions written for semaglutide (sold under the Ozempic and Wegovy brand names), liraglutide (Saxenda and Victoza) and tirzepatide (Mounjaro) grew 300% — from 2.3 million to 9.1 million — between the first quarter of 2020 and fourth quarter of 2022, according to a 2023 study from Trilliant Health, a Brentwood, Tennessee-based provider of analytics on the health care industry.

Some of the prescription growth is due to new drugs being introduced to the market later. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Eli Lilly & Co.'s Mounjaro as a diabetes medication in May 2022 and the company's Zepbound, a tirzepatide, as an obesity drug last November.

300%

Increase in prescriptions written for semaglutide between 2020 and 2022, according to a 2023 study from Trilliant Health.

Spending on Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy doubled to $38.6 billion between 2022 and 2023, becoming the bestselling medication in the nation, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Serving changes

Spanish restaurant Casa Luis has seen a decline in sales of desserts and alcohol over the last year, and customers are choosing healthier entrees, said Delia Arias, who co-owns the 35-year-old Smithtown eatery with her parents.

The restaurant’s alcohol purchases declined so much that even her wine vendor noticed, she said.

Some users of obesity drugs report that they have less tolerance or fewer cravings for alcohol, studies show.

However, Casa Luis’ sales of lower-calorie skinny margaritas are up, Arias said.

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason for the change in dessert and alcohol sales — whether it's more customers using obesity drugs or a cutback in spending because of the rising cost of living, or a combination of both — since many people are reluctant to admit that they are taking the medications, she said.

Arias knows firsthand the effects that medications can have on health, weight loss and life overall.

Since November, the Nesconset resident has lost 40 pounds using a compounded version of Ozempic — a compounded drug is an off-brand medication made by a compounding pharmacy that should use the same active ingredient as the brand name. The FDA allows compounding pharmacies to make the drugs when there are shortages of the brand-name products. but the agency does not verify the safety or effectiveness of compounded drugs.

“I’m very open about it. I don’t really care if people know that I’m on it,” Arias, 48, said of taking the medication.

Using the medication, her blood pressure has dropped to a normal level, her cholesterol level is lower, and she was able to reduce the amount of medication she took for a thyroid problem, she said.

“Health-wise, I’m a lot better. … Now that I’m a little lighter, I’m thinking of running again. I used to be a big runner. I have a lot more energy for sure,” she said.

Zepbound, made by Eli Lilly & Co, is one of...

Zepbound, made by Eli Lilly & Co, is one of the injectable medications being used for weight loss in the United States. Credit: Shelby Knowles

Restaurants nationwide are seeing a slowdown in sales given high prices and consumers pulling back on spending, said David Henkes, senior principal at Technomic, a restaurant and retail industry research firm in Chicago.

Technomic is projecting a modest 1% loss of sales at restaurants over the next 10 years because of obesity drugs.

It remains to be seen how significantly obesity drugs will impact restaurants in the long-term, but eateries have the ability to pivot to sell what customers are willing to buy, he said.

“The beautiful thing about restaurants is there is a lot of menu flexibility,” said Henkes, who added that eateries could add more salads, fruit-based smoothies, smaller entrée portions and other items that fit in with the “Ozempic lifestyle.”

Food retailers and food manufacturers are paying attention to the GLP industry.

Walmart CEO John Furner told Bloomberg News in October the retailer had seen a slight decline in grocery sales to customers picking up obesity medications in its pharmacies.

Share prices of food manufacturers, such as Hershey and PepsiCo, fell shortly after that interview.

Share prices of doughnut chain Krispy Kreme Inc. fell in October after analysts said they were concerned about how the company's sales would be affected by the growing use of GLP-1 drugs.

In May, Nestlé, the largest food manufacturer in the world, announced it was launching Vital Pursuit, a new line of high-protein foods for people taking weight loss medications in the GLP-1 class.

Like the restaurant industry, the packaged food industry has the ability to shift to offering items that are more appealing to obesity drug users, said Erin Lash, director of consumer sector equity research for Morningstar Research Services LLC, a financial services firm in Chicago.

“We expect candy and salty snack makers to be able to pivot to whatever appears to be an area of growing interest, whether it’s smaller packages, less filling snacks, healthier options, etc. Given health and wellness trends, the packaged food manufacturers have been investing for years in making their products healthier — without telling consumers, so as to avoid them balking at the thought of an inferior taste — and altering pack sizes to appeal to a consumer that wants to indulge but on a limited basis,” she said.

Obesity drugs' impact on supermarkets and restaurants nationwide has been minimal but that could change if the prices of the expensive medications decrease significantly, especially since consumers are already trading down to cheaper food because of higher prices, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail adviser of Circana, a Chicago-based market research firm.

The prices of GLP-1 drugs range from about $940 to $1,350 per month without health insurance coverage or rebates.

Most health insurance plans provided through employers do not cover the drugs, but the number that do is growing.

As of May, 57% of 279 surveyed employers provided coverage of the drugs for diabetes only, up from 49% in October 2023, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

The percentage providing coverage for both diabetes and weight loss rose from 26% to 34% during the same period, according to the Brookfield, Wisconsin-based foundation.

TandyWear, a women’s clothing store in Commack, has seen a...

TandyWear, a women’s clothing store in Commack, has seen a 10% increase in sales of smaller sizes over the last year, says owner Tandy Jeckel, shown in her store on June 17. Credit: John Roca

New looks

TandyWear, a women’s clothing store in Commack, has seen a 10% increase in the sale of smaller sizes over the last year, owner Tandy Jeckel said.

She is certain that it is due to obesity drug users needing new wardrobes after losing weight.

“Oh, absolutely, 100%. It is happening a lot. … We have a lot of small customers now, a lot more than we used to,” she said.

Because her store has been open for 30 years, longtime customers feel comfortable confiding in Jeckel and her staff about their weight-loss journeys, she said.

Although she wishes them well, she has concerns about the long-term health effects of the drugs, she said.

“How is it affecting you? It’s still putting something in your body that’s not natural,” she said.

At F45 Training, which are fitness studios that focus on high-intensity group workouts, membership sales are up 8.4% over the last year, said Tom Dowd, president and chief executive officer of the Austin, Texas-based chain.

Dowd is unable to say for sure that obesity drugs are playing a role in F45’s increased sales.

“We don’t know if it’s because of that. It’s a theory. … We just know we’re seeing a nice increase in sales. We can assume part of it’s driven by that,” he said.

What is true, he said, is that when people lose weight, it can lead to more exercise because of the boost in confidence.

“A lot of people now have the courage to work out because they’ve lost weight … because they feel better about themselves,” he said.

Membership at Breslau’s five Crunch Fitness gyms on Long Island has increased about 15% over the last year, he said.

Before COVID, the gyms’ cardio section was packed and the weight training section was “pleasantly full,” he said.

“Now, you can’t get in the weight section. Everyone is strength training,” he said.

Rapid weight loss from taking GLP-1 medications can lead to decreases in muscle mass and bone density.

“Lifestyle changes such as increasing protein intake and incorporating strength and resistance training can help combat muscle and bone density loss while taking GLP-1 medications,” according to Healthline.

A Morgan Stanley study found among survey respondents who were taking GLP-1 drugs, 35% exercised before they started taking the medications. The number grew to 71% after they started taking the drugs.

Not only is GLP-1 use driving membership numbers at gyms, but it also is opening a sales channel: selling the drugs using on-staff or contracted doctors or offering programs for people taking them.­

In November, Life Time Fitness announced that it was launching its MIORA Longevity and Performance program that offers “proprietary, medically curated peptides, including GLP-1s when appropriate.”

In December, Xponential Fitness Inc., which owns Club Pliates, CycleBar, StretchLab and other fitness brands, bought Lindora health clinics, which prescribe GLP-1 treatments.

In January, Equinox announced that it had rolled out a training program for people taking the drugs.

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

A taste of summer on Long Island NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer. 

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

A taste of summer on Long Island NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer. 

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