The Problem With Ozempic
Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders, Body Image
While cosmetic procedures come and go as micro-trends on the daily, Ozempic in particular stands out as one not quite like the others. Ozempic is a type of semaglutide sold as anti-diabetic medication. It comes in the form of a weekly injection and in US pharmacies, on average it costs $995 for 1.5 millimetres. On its website, Ozempic is stated to be a drug that manages type 2 diabetes and lowers the body’s blood sugar. It works by causing your pancreas to produce more insulin, preventing your liver from releasing too much sugar, and most importantly, slowing down the food that leaves your stomach, making you feel full for longer. It was approved to treat type 2 diabetes by the FDA in 2017.
However, in recent times, Ozempic has shifted away from its intended purpose, instead making waves as a miracle drug for weight loss. Many, many people that are not diabetic or obese have begun taking Ozempic in order to lose 10-20 pounds, when there is no need to. Celebrities such as Elon Musk, Chelsea Handler, and Remi Bader have all admitted to taking the drug. While it does help the diabetics who need it, Ozempic presents harm as well.
Firstly, and crucially, the people who buy Ozempic take it away from legitimate diabetics who are in genuine need. When the drug soared to notoriety in 2022, demand for it rapidly increased and suppliers were unable to keep up. As a result, shortages opened up in pharmacies across the US harming the most vulnerable of diabetic patients relying on Ozempic to manage their condition— diabetics who, without the drug, could end up in the ER. Notably, Ozempic isn’t a weight loss quickfix; if you start taking it, you have to routinely take it or else you will regain the weight lost and then some. Suppliers and pharmaceutical companies now have mostly resolved shortages, but some patients who are prescribed Ozempic still struggle to access it.
Besides this, the celebrities who take Ozempic are indirectly promoting unrealistic beauty standards. While this remains unconfirmed, celebrities including the Kardashians have been widely rumoured to consume the drug, and it is touted as the reason for the entire clan of sisters’ dramatic weight loss. However, to the majority of their young, impressionable and largely female fanbase, this aided and abetted unnecessary weight loss is simply seen as natural physical changes. Thus, unrealistic beauty standards are promoted to their fanbase who see these weight losses as attainable for them, without recognising the Ozempic that caused it.
Ultimately, unless you are diabetic or obese, Ozempic serves as little more than an injectable eating disorder, something to facilitate dropping weight that isn’t meant to be dropped. However, it is estimated that by 2035, 50% of Americans will be obese, so drugs like Ozempic will only grow to be more and more prevalent.