The type 2 diabetes drug, Ozempic, has become a household name for weight loss thanks to social media. Here’s what you need to know about this dangerous trend and example of a toxic diet culture.
Social media trends come and go, and unfortunately so do weight loss trends. Allied Market Research estimated weight loss sales in 2019 at $192.2 billion, with projections of $295.3 billion by 2027. The diabetes drug Ozempic, developed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, is currently making strides in the weight loss category with a average selling price. price of over $1,000 per month for the weekly injection.
What is Ozempic?
Sales of Ozempic recently skyrocketed after market shortages and backorders of Wegovy, the FDA-approved long-term weight management drug. Wegovy and Ozempic are both brand names for semaglutide, which suppresses appetite, lowers glucagon and can lead to 15-20% weight loss. Both drugs are the weight loss trend, from TikTok influencers to celebrities, and these social media promotions have led many young people to look for a seemingly quick fix to lose weight. The increase in the use of the drug for weight loss has resulted in a shortage of the drug for those who need it for their diabetes.
Silvana Obici, MD, chief of the Stony Brook Diabetes Center’s division of endocrinology and metabolism, and a specialist in obesity and diabetes medicine, tells parents that these medications should be used under medical supervision. Dr. Obici reminds patients that while these drugs are advanced diabetes medications and have helped many obese patients, they also come with side effects, frequent vomiting and nausea, and possible contradictions such as gallbladder stones and gastrointestinal problems.
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A dangerous trend
Dr. Obici recommends that you do not take these medications if you are not working with a doctor to address diabetes or obesity. She encourages parents to scrutinize doctors, evaluate all possible risks, and remember, “These are drugs that you have to take for life. The moment you stop taking this drug, you gain all the weight back.”
TikTok star Remi Bader has spoken openly about how she gained twice as much weight as she lost when she stopped taking Ozempic, while other influencers either raved about the drug or were rumored to be using it for weight loss. Now a proponent of size-inclusive fashion, Bader uses her platform to talk about her struggles with binge eating. However, social media is also a dangerous place when our teens and teens take in information without context or all the facts of a topic they are drawn to, especially when it is fueled by the food culture.
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If your teen has shared a weight loss desire and has spoken up or asked about access to this drug, open the conversation. Assess if your teen is struggling and if they have any health issues that are a contributing factor. Honest family discussions about weight stigma and fat phobia can help everyone put these issues into context and move beyond “the scale” to talk about lifelong healthy practices and self-esteem.
Making step-by-step changes for the whole family, from nutrition to exercise, supports your family and your teen for life.