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The Rise in Popularity of Ozempic is Toxic Diet Culture in Action

Content warning: This article touches on topics like diet culture, intentional weight loss, and disordered eating.

What is Ozempic?

As any observer of modern life will tell you, diet culture perpetuates fatphobic body standards that falsely conflate weight loss with health. It leads people to believe from a young age that they must chase thinness no matter the cost to their physical and psychological well-being. In the last decade, movements like body inclusivity and intuitive eating have somewhat challenged these norms. Yet, year after year, a new silver bullet makes waves—a diet, a miracle drug, a meal plan—promising a lot and proving very little.

The fix du jour is Ozempic: an injectable diabetes medication that has an appetite-suppressing component called semaglutide. The drug is currently in short supply in the U.S. and Australia after Hollywood celebrities, tech moguls, and influencers began crediting it for rapid weight loss. The #Ozempic hashtag has now been viewed hundreds of millions of times on TikTok, with users sharing their drastic before and afters and troubling side effects with the world.

Why the Ozempic weight loss trend is deeply concerning

This trend raises alarm bells considering Ozempic is currently neither FDA-approved nor advertised by its manufacturer for weight loss purposes. Experts also caution against using Ozempic other than for diabetes, obesity, or other health conditions that call for the drug. It can cause adverse side effects including nausea, bloating, and thyroid complications. Many of its long-term consequences are also uncertain, considering the drug is just about five years old.

Equally alarming is when such weight-centric frenzies enter the mainstream, they send damaging messages to adolescents and those already struggling with body image and food challenges. We’re already witnessing the return of fashion trends and magazine covers celebrating the ultra-thin figures of the early 2000s. Now, there’s a diabetes medication being popularized by public figures with massive followings for… not diabetes.

Clearly, our culture is still telling individuals to get rid of fat instead of getting rid of the stigma around it. These pressures push people to turn to unsustainable remedies and cycles of food restriction and bingeing. But in reality, there is no quick fix for body image challenges.

How “lose weight fast” fads perpetuate harmful cycles

Like many fads over the years, off-label use of Ozempic offers a physiological solution for a psychological problem. For those unhappy with their bodies or struggling with food, Ozempic will only alter physical appearances, while their emotional and relational issues will remain unaddressed, or worse, be aggravated.

We at the Kyla Fox Centre believe that trends like these can function like a set-up. People might seek out this drug to attain the body they desire—and be back to square one once it’s removed from the equation for any reason. They will then seek out a new ‘quick fix’ that will perpetuate this unfortunate cycle—causing further damage to their physical and mental health.

Ultimately, this trend should teach us that weight loss doesn’t guarantee health or happiness. An injection can’t magically improve one's relationship with their body. For those having trouble feeling comfortable in their skin, it’s important to remember there are safer and more sustainable ways to help.

It can be difficult to resist unrealistic body standards—they’re seemingly everywhere. For parents and guardians especially, it’s hard to reckon with the fact that you cannot fully shield your child from diet culture. What you can do is expose them to more accurate and inclusive health information, help them internalize weight-agnostic attitudes toward food and exercise, and contact a healthcare professional as soon as serious concerns arise.

A note from our team

If you or someone you know is facing disordered eating or body image challenges, this is deserving of attention and support. You can reach out to the Kyla Fox Centre to ask questions, share part of your story, and determine if this is the right place for support.

Sources and additional reading:

Ozempic (2022). Possible Side Effects.


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