While Ozempic was made in the lab, it has found rapid popularity on social media apps like TikTok. Originally designed to lower blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes, Ozempic has become well-known across the world as a weight-loss aid.
Ozempic used for weight loss, another popular trend on TikTok, has been controversial among medical professionals.
In individuals with type 2 diabetes, Ozempic enters the bloodstream and encourages insulin synthesis. Furthermore, it lessens glucagon secretion and somewhat delays stomach emptying. Ozempic is recommended as a supplement to diet and exercise for persons with type 2 diabetes mellitus to enhance glycemic control.
Ozempic is only FDA-approved for treating diabetes, but some doctors prescribe it for weight loss. The weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Novo Nordisk's Wegovy are nearly identical. However, Wegovy uses a different dose of semaglutide injection.
While Ozempic can be beneficial for those who are obese or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it may also bring adverse effects if taken without medical consultation.
As of 2023, there are approximately 302.35 million users on social media. This means that around 90% of the population is using various platforms to seek and share information. With most of the nation utilizing social media platforms, multiple trends populate TikTok regarding health tips. But, without fact-checking and professional guidance, these tips can often be dangerous.
Ozempic has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in persons with type 2 diabetes when combined with diet and exercise. It can also lower the risk of significant cardiovascular events, including stroke, heart attack, or death in individuals with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease. While maintaining a balanced diet and exercising regularly is always a good idea, incorrectly taking medications that are not intended for weight loss might bring adverse effects.
The drug enters the bloodstream and promotes insulin production in people with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it reduces glucagon secretion and causes a little delay in stomach emptying. Ozempic is indicated as an adjunct to diet and exercise to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
It is a member of the GLP-1 agonist drug class. GLP-1 agonists reduce blood sugar levels after meals by mimicking the action of the gut hormone GLP-1. Additionally, they prevent your liver from producing glucose and give you a longer-lasting feeling of fullness. It also induces satiety, which suppresses appetite and helps reduce weight indirectly.
Ozempic is approved by the FDA for the management of diabetes only. Still, some medical professionals prescribe it to be used off-label, which refers to the use of a drug for a disease other than those for which it has been approved by the FDA, such as weight reduction. Wegovy, a weight-loss medication made by Novo Nordisk, is virtually identical to Ozempic but uses different amounts of semaglutide injection.
The hashtag, #Ozempic, has over 1.2 billion views on TikTok and has been catching steam across the platform and beyond. NBC reported that there were 4,000 ads for Ozempic running on Instagram and Facebook, bombarding people on all platforms. Social media is being used as a vehicle for weight loss jabs to traverse toward folks willing and eager to shed some pounds — AKA a glamorized infomercial for millennials and Gen Z.
As a result, drug availability is now restricted for diabetic individuals who depend on them to regulate their blood sugar levels due to the rising popularity. In 2023, there was a countrywide Ozempic scarcity due to the event's enormous popularity on social media, and Wegovy had to pull all advertisements due to the shortage. By offering prescriptions online, digital health firms make it easier for people to obtain pharmaceuticals like Ozempic.
Manufacturers are creating new injections, like Mounjaro and Saxenda, to keep up with demand and variety. However, all of these drugs come with — oftentimes — extreme side effects.
Long-term impact of Ozempic
Although some have claimed that they were able to see rapid weight-loss results with the drug, others are concerned about the impacts and long-term consequences of utilizing the medication when not diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
"Using Ozempic for weight loss as off-label use without proper medical supervision can lead to potential side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain."- Chaar
Other people have reported, also on social media platforms, that these drugs are contributing to hair loss, muscle loss, thyroid issues, stomach paralysis, constant vomiting, and suicidal thoughts.
Chaar says that people who abuse prescription drugs put themselves in grave danger since they do not need the medication for the stated medical purpose.
For some, the hazards may outweigh the advantages of losing weight for aesthetic reasons. However, it should be avoided by people who have pancreatitis, medullary thyroid carcinoma, or are at higher risk of developing the disease.
If losing weight is a top priority, several medications may help, along with a balanced diet and exercise.
Chaar says some medicines approved by the FDA for weight loss include:
Some supplements that can affect weight loss include:
- Green tea extract
- Garcinia cambogia
He emphasizes that while feeling healthy and content, consulting a healthcare provider before starting any weight loss medication or supplements is essential.
Chaar concludes that Ozempic has been found to have positive side effects, such as diabetic control by lowering and stabilizing blood sugar helps reduce diabetes complications. It also can have potential cardiovascular benefits by reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
How far Ozempic will go, we still don't know. Recently, the WHO left off weight loss drugs on their essential medicines list, hinting that professionals aren't sure if the benefits outweigh the cons. And they definitely showed the public that weight loss by use of drugs isn't essential.
Overall, Ozempic's rise in weight loss stardom has rocked the entire industry. And it all started on TikTok, exemplifying the power of online voices and the spread of news via videos and first-person testimonials.
Chaar says it requires a collective effort to ensure the safety of these viral trends. Social media platforms play a vital role and can help by implementing policies to prevent the spread of misguided information or the use of medications for off-label uses without proper medical guidance.
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- FDA. FDA Drug Shortages.
- Keck Medicine of USC. What Doctors Think About Prescribing Wegovy and Ozempic for Weight Loss.
- NovoMed Link. Once-weekly Ozempic® (semaglutide) injection mechanism of action.
- Census. U.S. and World Population Clock.