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In the six years since Ozempics’ release, the drug has grown from a relative newcomer on the market to a dominant force in the weight loss industry, inspiring a number of similar drugs, including Mounjaro, Wegovy, Rybelsus, Victoza and Sanxeda. But as this new wave of diet choices continues to gain popularity, Ozempic becomes more than just a lesson in how to lose weight. Pharmaceutical companies are discovering the self-care trap has failed, and it’s working.
While self-care is often associated with mental health, taking days off, or the occasional 99-cent face mask, the internet’s definition of wellness has evolved into its best version , the most productive, most splendid of oneself, achieved. through hard work, determination and enough money to buy dozens of products. Combined with the popularity of image-focused social media, self-care is more than just a buzzword. It’s a marketing tool, a state of mind, and according to McKinsey & Company, it’s a $1.5 trillion economy. It is also exclusionary, both in terms of money, and by elevating restraint into a moral virtue. But the reality is that a medical injectable drug Ozempic that costs nearly $1,000 a month and is often not covered by insurance is thriving in an era of health care defined by alternative, Expensive and pseudoscientific treatments are no coincidence. It’s a direct result of a bloated self-care framework, one that has made willpower the ultimate goal and left the majority of women behind in the process.
First released in 2017, Ozempic is part of the semaglutide class of drugs known as GLP-1 antagonists. Ozempic and Mounjaro injections, as well as oral medication Rybelsus, are only approved to treat type 2 diabetes in adults, while Wegovy is FDA approved for weight loss. GLP-1 drugs mimic natural GLP-1 made in the intestines, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Although the drug was originally developed to treat diabetes, the side effects of making people feel full longer and reducing appetite have made Ozempic a popular choice for weight loss. Since 2021, demand for Ozempic has doubled, with an estimated 370,000 people using the drug and others currently experiencing shortages nationwide. But the growing use of semaglutide options has sparked major debates about whether weight plays too big a role in what doctors consider a healthy body; and how healthcare culture is often defined by discipline and a long, arduous process when there are seemingly easier (but no less expensive) alternatives.
Christy Harrison is a registered dietitian and author of the book Health trap, a book that explores how diet culture and misinformation have taken over the online wellness space. She speaks Rolling Stone that the most modern iteration of wellness and self-care culture has linked itself to weight loss at all costs, but uses rhetoric around taking care of your body instead just want to look beautiful.
Wellness culture equates muscle and specific body shape with health and morality, Harrison said, and promotes weight loss and body reshaping as a way to achieve high status than even when elevating those who do not fit the positive picture of health. [They say] You’re doing this for your health, you’re doing this to be the best you can be.
Harrison notes that one of the biggest failures of self-care is that it convinces most people that the only thing standing between them and success is willpower, which marketing reflects online. Much of the self-care content on sites like Instagram and TikTok succeeds by presenting ideal or unattainable standards of beauty or health, while convincing large followings that they too it is possible to achieve this goal without revealing the financial and time freedoms that allow that health to take place. The first answer to these unattainable goals, Harrison said, is the return of the body positivity movement, which prides itself on celebrating all body sizes. Next up is the body neutrality movement, which means accepting your body even if it’s a size or shape you don’t like. Now, Ozempic is being marketed where self-care hasn’t been, as a way to take control of your health without blaming yourself.
The Ozempic craze has also tapped into something that hasn’t been adequately addressed in self-care: the existing gap in health care for transgender women. Marketing around weight loss and health is primarily aimed at women. According to Novo Nordisk, at least 81% of users of Wegovy, the version of Ozempic specifically approved for weight loss, identify as women. And the majority of Ozempic advocates and online influencers suffer from hormonal syndromes, like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome or chronic thyroid problems, all can all cause rapid weight gain or difficulty losing weight. These influencers have built a foundation of using Ozempic to treat their hormonal weight loss and have created anecdotal stories that the drug is having success while other Previous health care alternatives were unsuccessful.
says Dr. Daniel Ginn, an obstetrician and gynecologist at UCLA Health Rolling Stone that diagnosing and treating people with endometriosis, PCOS, or other related pelvic disorders can be extremely difficult. According to Ginn, it takes on average seven to nine years to diagnose endometriosis, a process that can leave people desperately searching for alternatives.
I’m definitely biased because by the time the patient comes to see me, I already believe them, Ginn said. And I hear the same story eight times a week or more that someone has symptoms that have existed for a very long time and were not taken seriously or were overlooked or ignored from the beginning. And it’s heartbreaking. We cried a lot inside [the] clinic, because I get to see patients feel heard for the first time, which is a privilege and also a heartbreaking feeling because it shouldn’t be that way.
The land has become fertile for wellness culture to flourish because there is so much of it [legitimate] problems in the conventional health care system, Harrison adds. People with conditions such as autoimmune disease or PCOS or conditions that are not well understood and not adequately treated. People with those conditions want some solutions.
Even as a prescription drug, Ozempic helped turn people’s distrust of Western medicine into a blatant disregard for doctors’ warnings. Since the Ozempic shortage officially began, the Federal Drug Administration has issued multiple warnings about compounded semaglutide, a generic version of the drug that people can buy from compounding pharmacies or drugstores. Telemedicine website. But the practice continues, with TikTok videos sharing how to buy cheaper and more complex versions online leading doctors to encourage people to listen to the FDA’s warning on TikTok. And according to a recent report from Fortune, there is a network of incentives and financial payments underlying much of the Ozempic-themed content on TikTok that encourages influencers to post more about the drug. . Online, using Ozempic has come to represent taking care of your health into your own hands, even if it means ignoring your doctor’s advice in the process. But Harrison told Rolling Stone that as more problems with the self-care economy come to light, she hopes people will address the social problems that cause them instead of looking for a new solution.
I think it’s harmful to the wellness culture to say you need to take time for yourself and the way to do that is to lose weight or eat this restrictive diet or do this exercise program or whatever, Harrison said. Larger systemic issues are not addressed or considered. People feel guilty for not taking care of themselves when there are real systemic pressures that make it difficult to do so. I think if we can be together
If we work to change those things, we will be much better off than having mothers, fathers, and others targeted by the rhetoric that they need to take care of themselves into their own hands.
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