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At first glance, Ozempic and Wegovy may seem like a miracle solution for weight loss. While these drugs have been shown to be effective in aiding weight loss, that doesn’t mean they are ideal for your health and well-being. 

In this article, we will explore:

  1. How these weight loss drugs work
  2. How Ozempic and Wegovy contribute to diet culture
  3. The potential side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy.


How Ozempic and Wegovy Work


Ozempic, who’s active ingredient is semaglutide, was studied and approved for diabetes management. Wegovy, who’s active ingredient is also semaglutide is FDA approved for the treatment of o*esity.  


Both medications lead to weight loss in most individuals. They work by mimicking the effects of a hormone called GLP-1, which regulates appetite and digestion. By activating GLP-1 receptors in the body, these drugs make people feel full and satisfied after eating, leading to a reduced calorie intake and ultimately, weight loss.


If you are someone who has been on the receiving end of weight bias or weight stigma this may sound like a dream come true. A way to finally be the size society says I “should” be.  But if something is too good to be true, then… I’d think about it real hard. 


What is Diet Culture?



Before we dive into how Ozempic and Wegovy contribute to diet culture, let’s first define diet culture


Diet culture is a system of beliefs that equates thinness with health and moral virtue. It perpetuates the idea that people should strive to achieve a certain body shape or size, regardless of whether it is healthy or sustainable. 


It also endorses the notion that individuals in large bodies can’t be healthy, which just isn’t true.


This often leads to people trying to shrink their body below their setpoint resulting in disordered eating habits and a negative relationship with food and one’s body.


The Role of Ozempic and Wegovy in Diet Culture


Ozempic and Wegovy very well could be an injectable eating disorder for some individuals. Before writing this article I spent several months inside Facebook groups full of people on Wegovy or Ozempic. 

Many people on these weight loss drugs shared how excited they were that they:

…no longer enjoyed eating

…were full from only a few bites

…could successfully follow a very very low calorie diet 


If someone in a thin body were to celebrate these behaviors it would (hopefully) be cause for concern and not encouraged.  But why is it okay to encourage eating disorder behaviors in large individuals? (I’m 100% sure it has a whole lot to do with fat-phobia, diet culture, weight bias and weight stigma) And some of the people in these groups are considered straight sized, not plus sized. 


These drugs play a huge role in perpetuating diet culture because they promote the idea that weight loss will automatically improve one’s health. This further contributes to the harmful beliefs that underpin diet culture. 


The truth is, weight loss, even in large individuals, doesn’t directly equal improvements in health. 


Ozempic and Wegovy feed into diet culture messages by glorifying their impact on weight. This just reinforces the diet culture message that weight loss should be desirable if you are in a larger body. 


On the flip side, diet culture has fed into the overuse of Ozempic and Wegovy. Where many individuals are just using it for vanity pounds, despite being perfectly healthy.  


The Side Effects of Ozempic and Wegovy



Despite the potential for concerning side effects, the only ones that seem to be making headlines are the appearance focused side effects like “ozempic face” and “ozempic butt”. (Thank you beauty culture)


Back to the observations I made in the Facebook groups. In addition to the celebration of undereating, I saw a lot of comments and posts about people having

  • low energy
  • unbearable GI side effects 
  • Nausea (up to 60% in clinical trials)
  • hair loss (likely from malnutrition) 
  • taste alterations, and more.


I don’t want to ignore that some people in the group felt that the medication made them feel better, not worse. But most people hadn’t been on it long-term either. 


I will also say that there were a great deal of people in the groups that were taking Wegovy or Ozempic purely for vanity reasons (hello diet culture) while some were there because of health markers they couldn’t seem to improve on their own (high blood sugar, HTN, high cholesterol, etc) 


Ozempic and Wegovy can also have potentially dangerous side effects. 


Both drugs have been linked to pancreatitis, a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed and can lead to serious health complications. Other potential side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.


Semaglutide comes with a warning that it may increase one’s risk of developing thyroid cancer. The studies leading to that warning were from animal studies. While there are no long-term studies in humans assessing thyroid cancer risk, thyroid cancer in patients on semaglutide is starting to pop up, warranting additional research.  


Furthermore, because Ozempic and Wegovy work by altering the body’s natural appetite and digestion processes, they can also disrupt the body’s natural rhythms and cause imbalances in blood sugar levels. 


This can lead to hypoglycemia, a condition in which blood sugar levels drop too low and can cause dizziness, confusion, and even loss of consciousness. This is especially alarming when I see a non-diabetic taking the medication and also following a very low calorie diet. 


What Happens When You Stop Taking Wegovy or Ozempic?


The consensus seems to be that for Wegovy or Ozempic to be effective you need to be on it for life. Most people will just regain the weight they’ve lost when they come off of it. For those that are taking it for a few vanity pounds it 100% defeats the purpose.  


For those that are taking it for o*esity, will their insurance continue to cover it once their BMI decreases? Or what if the co-pays become too expensive?  Or what if they can’t get it? Now they are back on the diet roller coaster, which we know is damaging to one’s physical and mental health. 


The Importance of Being Anti-Diet Culture


By being anti-diet culture one can ensure they are making decisions that best support their well-being rather than being motivated by the need to be a smaller size. Health and happiness come in many forms. By shifting the focus away from weight loss and towards well-being, we can help combat diet culture and its harmful effects.



In conclusion, while Ozempic and Wegovy may seem like a quick fix for weight loss, it is important to be aware of their potential side effects and the role that they play in perpetuating diet culture. By promoting self-acceptance and HAES®, we can help combat harmful beliefs and promote more sustainable approaches to improving our health and well-being.

If you are taking Ozempic for health/medical reasons, be sure to discuss potential risks with your doctor so they can help you compare the risks with possible benefits.  

Dina Garcia, RD, LDN
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