The type 2 diabetes drug, Ozempic, has become a household name for weight loss because of social media. Here's what you should know about this dangerous trend and example of toxic diet culture.
Social media trends come and go, and sadly, so do weight loss trends. Allied Market Research valued weight loss sales in 2019 at $192.2 billion, with projections set to reach $295.3 billion by 2027. The diabetic medication Ozempic, developed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, is currently making headway in the weight loss category with an average retail price of over a $1,000 a month for the weekly injection.
What Is Ozempic?
Sales of Ozempic recently shot up after market shortages and back orders of Wegovy, the FDA approved drug for long term weight management. Wegovy and Ozempic are both brand names for semaglutide, which suppresses the appetite, lowers glucagon and can lead to 15-20% loss of one's body weight. Both of these drugs have been the weight loss topic trend from TikTok influencers to celebrities, and these promotions across social media have led many young people to seek out a seemingly quick fix to lose weight. The rise in the drug's use for weight loss has resulted in a shortage of the drug for those who need it for their diabetes.
Silvana Obici, M.D., chief of the endocrinology and metabolism division at Stony Brook Diabetes Center, and specialist in obesity and diabetes medicine, tells Parents that these drugs have to be used under medical supervision. Dr. Obici reminds patients that while these drugs have advanced diabetes medication and have helped many obese patients, they also come with side effects, commonly vomiting and nausea, and possible contradictions such as gallbladder stones and gastrointestinal issues.
A Dangerous Trend
Dr. Obici recommends that you do not use these drugs if you are not working with a doctor to address diabetes or obesity. She encourages parents to scrutinize doctors, evaluate all possible risks, and to remember: "These are medications that you have to take for life. The moment you stop this medication, you gain all the weight back."
TikTok star Remi Bader has talked openly about how she gained back twice the amount of weight she lost when she stopped using Ozempic, while other influencers have either raved about the drug or been rumored to use it for their weight loss. Bader is now an advocate for size-inclusive fashion and uses her platform to talk about her struggles with binge eating. However, social media is also a dangerous place when our tweens and teens take in information without context or all of the facts of a topic they are drawn to, especially when it feeds into diet culture.
If your teen has shared a desire for weight loss and has been talking or asking about access to this drug, open up the conversation. Assess if your teen is struggling and if they have health issues that are a contributing factor. Having honest family discussions about weight stigma and fatphobia can help everyone contextualize these issues and get beyond "the scale" to talk about lifelong healthy practices and self-esteem.
Making incremental changes for the entire family, from nutrition to movement will support your family and your teen for life.