Why is the weight loss drug Ozempic so popular on TikTok?

ozempic syringe

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On March 6, the Italian Medicines Agency launched an appeal: there is a risk that stocks of the drug Ozempic for people with diabetes will run out. It is a drug that acts on the metabolism: it contains the active ingredient semaglutide capable of increasing the release of insulin in reaction to glucose intake but also of delaying gastric emptying and reducing the sense of hunger. At the moment in Italy Ozempic, produced by Novo Nordisk, can only be prescribed to patients with type 2 diabetes, but in the United States the situation is very different: this drug is all the rage on TikTok, is prescribed “off-label” to stimulate weight loss and some say it’s the reason behind Kim and Khloé Kardashian’s new slimness. “For people living with serious health risks related to their weight, Ozempic can be a godsend,” writes the New Yorker“for those who aren’t, it could work more like an easily injectable eating disorder.”

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The hashtag #ozempicjourney on TikTok it currently has more than 123 million views. The drug went viral after many people started using it to lose weight and showed the effects on social media. We live in a still highly fat-phobic society and the idea of ​​an injection that suddenly makes you lose the pounds you want by removing the feeling of hunger may seem like a dream to many people. And yet, precisely because fatness is culturally demonized and thinness seen as an aspiration, there is a strong risk that the use of Ozempic will lead to health problems and eating disorders. In the United States it has become a real craze. Even Elon Musk has said he uses Wegovy (which contains the same active ingredient as Ozempic but is marketed for obesity) to keep himself “fit, sculpted and healthy”.

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“It’s not normal to drastically alter your body’s metabolic process,” he writes on New Yorker journalist Jia Tolentino recounting how easy it is to get a prescription for Ozempic in the USA, «and there are no large-scale data on the safety of these drugs when taken by people who are primarily interested in treating another chronic condition, the desire to be thin.”

At the moment in Italy, Aifa is very clear in specifying that “Ozempic is indicated exclusively for the treatment of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus that is not adequately controlled in addition to diet and physical exercise”. «Any other use», specifies the Agency, «including weight management, represents an off-label use and currently threatens the availability of Ozempic for the indicated population». Little is known about these new drugs: will they lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes and obesity or will they only fuel the stigma towards fat people and the obsession with being thin? What seems clear, for now, is that we will continue to hear about it.

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