Ozempic®: Social Media Weight Loss Trend vs Diabetes Medication

Written by Anushka Angle

Diabetes has been a prevalent issue in America with almost 11% of the nation’s population having the condition, and 1 in 5 not being aware they have it. As the years go on, diabetes has unfortunately not been subdued. In fact, in the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled and will continue to increase. With statistics such as these, the condition of diabetes is outweighing the supply of medication. Medications for certain conditions most always have side effects; as for one of the diabetes medications, ozempic, the common side effect is weight loss – making it desirable for those who seek a fast way to lose weight, leaving diabetic patients with more expensive alternatives. 

In Jackson, Mississippi, patients and pharmacies claim to be having trouble filling prescriptions for the pharmaceuticals that treat Type 2 diabetes – a condition where one’s body does not use insulin effectively and therefore cannot keep blood sugar at a normal level. Type 2 diabetes is the most common and prevalent form of diabetes since 90-95% of those who have been diagnosed with diabetes have this form. Prevention and postponing of Type 2 diabetes is possible through healthy lifestyle choices such as: losing weight, eating healthy and being active. Ozempic, a drug which works to lower blood sugar, has been decreasing in stock due to its increasing popularity on social media. Owner and pharmacist at Northtown Pharmacy, Dr. Andrew Clark, claims “Because of the social media, I guess, frenzy around it, I am going to weight loss, supplies are limited,”.  On the social media app TikTok alone, #ozempic has over 540 million views. 

The Effect and Power of Social Media

Social media and online influencers have become more prevalent in today’s society especially in terms of advertising and marketing products. Influencers essentially treat themselves as a brand, having a sizable and engaged network of followers that trust their decisions and choices. Enabled by this trust from their followers, influencers and celebrities create trends and convince their followers to make the same decisions. Even if celebrities are not directly influencing their audience to make the same decisions as them, people who look up to these celebrities will inevitably embody the same actions as the celebrities, ultimately creating a trend. This phenomenon is exactly what occurred with Ozempic. Celebrities who admitted to consuming the drug include Chealsea Handler and Elon Musk, two extremely popular figures on the internet. Although Handler and other celebrities express their concern for the after effects of Ozempic, there are individuals such as Elon Musk who do not, which continues the social media fad that Ozempic has become. 

Social media platforms have recently come to have an impact on how the youth and adults view their own bodies whether it’s positive or negative. Some of these platforms feature people who promote “unrealistic beauty standards” , utilizing filters or photo-editing apps, which allow for them to have superficially perfect features or figures. As a result, it can lead to low self-esteem and body dysmorphia among other people. Even though Ozempic is not a snapchat filter or editing app, celebrities utilizing Ozempic for weight loss indirectly promotes an unhealthy lifestyle choice since it is a fast way to lose weight. Due to the toxic comparison of oneself to others on social media, the emergence of lack of patience among people and the quest for efficiency, people in society desire quick and effortless ways to achieve their goals – in this case, fitness goals. Even if it means spending money out of their savings, people, including role model figures such as celebrities, desire a fast, effortless way to achieve a “perfect body”, even if it means being ignorant of the side effects. 

Abuse of Unnecessary Medication

Among Type 2 diabetes, your body does not respond functionally to insulin, creating an insulin resistance. As a result, your pancreas attempts to generate more insulin and ultimately raises your blood sugar when the pancreas cannot keep up with the food being digested. When an individual takes a drug whose purpose is to repair a function that is already normal in that individual, the drug naturally does damage to that area. Specifically, those using Ozempic or similar medication, for weight loss, could experience side effects that damage their perfectly functioning pancreas and can cause further issues such as gut problems or more. Dr. Clark states, “if you do not have type two diabetes, your pancreas is already doing a great job releasing insulin. So, we don’t want to disturb that.” When an individual consumes Ozempic they are producing more insulin than their regular desired amount which breaks the regulatory homeostatic aspect of that part of the body. 

Instead of Ozempic, there are many alternative options to lose weight, such as a healthy diet and exercise, which although might take time and effort, are healthier and prevent unforeseen health issues. Also, by switching to these alternatives one mitigates health inequity and economic disparities among healthcare so diabetic patients across all economical statuses can receive fair care to treat and regulate their diabetes in a culture where the supply can outweigh the demand. Due to the shortage of the drug, doctors try to find other alternatives which are also scarce and potentially more expensive. When the prescription needs to change it creates a longing process of authorization requests which generates a lot of back and forth deliberations with insurance companies. This allows for unwanted additional costs. So, to avoid this easily avoidable issue, Ozempic and other drugs of its kind must be prioritized for usage by those who medically require it. 

As part of our natural psychology, we desire quick and effortless methods to attain what we want, and for some at the expense of their health. Although everyone is entitled to their decisions, taking unnecessary medications and drugs, such as Ozempic, for weight loss is something where cons outweigh the pros. Not only can Ozempic cause unforeseen health issues in healthy individuals, it may also deplete the medication available for those who actually need it. This causes insurmountable healthcare problems such as expensive insurance bills, not to mention worsening of one’s diabetic condition. To alleviate the issue at hand in terms of weight loss and diabetes prevention and treatment, committing to a healthy lifestyle is imperative: having a balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress levels. To mitigate the toxic cycle of social media and body dysmorphia we need to learn to appreciate our bodies for what they are and work towards leading a healthier lifestyle. Diabetes is a pressing disorder facing the nation and we must support the cause in any way we can and not be a hindrance to their overall care and the healthcare system in general.

Edited by Noor Naheed

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