The weight-loss molecule that seduced Elon Musk (and now it’s a problem)

There Body Positivity has some gray areas, especially in Hollywood where for a few months they are all thinner. The means by which the stars lose weight is not a diet, but a molecule, Semaglutide, the active ingredient of an injectable medicine designed to regulate blood sugar in subjects with type 2 diabetes.

The improper use of this drug is an ethical problem, which has also become a social trend (TikTok in the lead with over 100 million views for the hashtag #ozempijoruney) and a pop culture phenomenon, so much so that it has reached the cover of New York Magazine last March, and to surpass in popularity historically well-known drugs such as Botox and Viagra.

It seemed impossible but the specter of Diet Culture is back, creating a hype around the use of this drug followed by a total “will it be diet or Ozempic?”, with a gallery of before and after images, which underline sudden weight loss to stay like Khloe KardashianAndy Cohen and even Elon Musk. A speculation that once again overshadows physical and mental health and puts the emphasis on the distorted charm of hyper-thinness.

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How does Ozempic work, and why does it help you lose weight?

It is a drug belonging to the class GLP-1 agonist that replicates a hormone that our body produces naturally as soon as we start eating. In practice Semaglutide 1mg (Ozempic) is a weekly injection that increases insulin release in response to glucose intake and causes a slight delay in gastric emptying. But not only. It also acts on the areas of the brain that determine appetite, significantly decreasing it for the next six to seven days after intake. All this leads to a reduction over time of fat cells and therefore of body weight.

But like all drugs, Ozempic also has side effects ranging from the most common gastrointestinal problems (nausea, vomiting, constipation) to more serious pathologies such as inflammation of the pancreas, diabetic retinopathy, kidney problems and allergic reactions. And the worst thing is that the use off label of this drug to lose weight it is harming those to whom a dose of medicine would rightfully belong, i.e. patients with type 2 diabetes. The drug is in fact not meant to be discontinued: once prescribed it must be self-administered at home by weekly injection into the abdomen, thigh or upper arm. The equation is elementary: more and more people start the treatment, fewer and fewer doses available.

The ethical problem

Using a drug that is in short supply for personal purposes is unethical and causes big problems: it was AIFA, the Italian Medicines Agency, who issued a note addressed to health professionals according to which, although the drug is in supply, it is still lacking and does not meet total demand. So imagine how many sick people are in trouble. Indeed, the dose of Ozempic allows a diabetic to benefit from the effects for a week with just one injection. While replacing it, one must opt ​​for other drugs with daily doses, thus having to resort to continuous injections.

This media case seems like an excellent time to go back to emphasizing that thinness and health are not always synonymous. And if you really want to reach your desired weight, better forget the anti-ethical shortcuts: physical activity, healthy eating and regular doctor visits still seem like the only way to take care of your body. And to be beautiful inside and out (in every sense).

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