Ozempic Shaming

Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Reviewed by Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Written by Lauren Panoff

Published 05/14/2024

If you’ve been on TikTok or any other social media — or any kind of media, for that matter — you’ve probably come across Ozempic® (semaglutide). And that means you might have come across Ozempic shaming, an unfortunate side effect of this medication becoming more popular.

Ozempic is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, or GLP-1 medication. It’s only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating type 2 diabetes, but with rising trends in obesity, some healthcare providers are prescribing it off-label for weight loss when appropriate.

While Ozempic is effective for weight loss, many people, whether they’re in Hollywood or everyday America, unfortunately experience shaming from others for their choice to use it.

We live in a culture where scrutinizing other people’s bodies and health-related choices is at an all-time high (thanks partly to social media), but there’s never a good reason to shame anyone.

Here’s what you need to know about Ozempic shaming.

There are countless reasons why people may feel inclined to engage in the great Ozempic debate by shaming those who use it.

Weight-related shaming often stems from deeply ingrained attitudes and misconceptions surrounding nutrition, body image, and wellness in general.

There’s a pervasive belief that thinness equals beauty, success, and superiority, while larger bodies are associated with laziness, lack of self-control, and poor health.

This mindset stereotypes everyone and creates a toxic environment where people feel justified in shaming others based on their weight — or, in this case, their chosen weight management methods.

Furthermore, many people see weight gain as a simple matter of lacking willpower and discipline. In reality, it’s much more complex. How much someone weighs and how easy or difficult it is to change their weight is a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors, as well as medical conditions.

Passing judgment is rarely about the person being criticized. Instead, we often pass judgment on something or someone that triggers a personal insecurity or challenges a deeply held belief. It’s possible that Ozempic shaming stems from this as well.

Finally, who hasn’t experienced pressures to conform to unrealistic expectations of what we’re “supposed” to look like? This heightens feelings of inadequacy and may push some people to shame others who choose not to chase these ideals.

Ozempic shaming is obnoxious and hurtful. It’s also a good example of the broader issues in our society around bias, misinformation, and discrimination.

If you survived middle school without being a victim of judgment about your choices, opinions, or appearance, consider yourself lucky.

Many bullies continue their path of destruction well into adulthood, like when they choose to shame someone for using Ozempic. This behavior can be damaging on many levels.

First, shaming is just mean. It’s the exact opposite of offering someone encouragement, empowerment, or any feel-good vibes, instead leaving them with guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy that can lead to serious mental health consequences.

Shaming perpetuates the weight stigma that’s everywhere in our society, reinforcing the idea that losing weight with the assistance of medication is somehow cheating. This is probably the biggest misunderstanding about Ozempic.

Finally, shaming discourages people from seeking effective treatments for obesity — including Ozempic and other GLP-1s — which can be valuable tools in improving health outcomes and quality of life.

Simply put, by stigmatizing weight loss drugs, we risk deterring people from accessing potentially life-saving treatments.

One of the main reasons people believe stereotypes or criticize something is because they don’t understand it. While this isn’t an excuse for bad behavior, it’s common to be misguided about something that doesn’t directly affect us.

To help dispel the misinformation being spread from Ozempic backlash, let’s review how it supports weight loss.

First, it mimics the action of a hormone in your body called GLP-1, which helps regulate appetite and blood sugar levels. By activating GLP-1 receptors in your brain, Ozempic can reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness, helping you eat less.

Additionally, Ozempic slows digestion and nutrient absorption, contributing to weight loss. It may also indirectly affect weight loss by improving insulin sensitivity and promoting the use of stored fat for energy.

As you can see, Ozempic works in a multifaceted way, making it an effective tool for obesity. Ozempic users find that it not only promotes weight loss but also helps lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and other obesity-related conditions.

Science tells us that Ozempic works more effectively than any sort of fad diet. So why do we fat-shame people who use weight loss medications to help them achieve a healthier weight and lower disease risk but don’t shame people for using unhealthy and expensive fad diets that we know don’t work?

Neither is okay to do — it’s just an interesting dichotomy worth exploring.

Prescribed online

Weight loss treatment that puts you first

No one thing — a magic pill, “superfood,” or groundbreaking exercise tool (we see you, ThighMaster) — leads to healthy, sustainable weight loss. Achieving this goal requires a combination of healthy choices over time.

Weight loss medications are designed to be used with other weight loss-promoting habits, like the ones below.

Move More

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest factors standing in the way of achieving and maintaining weight loss. It’s important to find ways to incorporate daily movement into your routine, like:

  • Taking a morning walk around the block with neighbors

  • Riding your bike with your kids to drop them off at school

  • Meeting a friend to play tennis once a week

  • Trying a drop-in fitness class at a local gym

  • Taking your dog to explore new hiking trails

A combination of cardio and strength training exercises is best for weight loss. In addition to the aerobic activities above, use dumbbells or resistance bands or do bodyweight exercises at least twice a week.

Focus on Nutrition

It’s easy to be pulled into the latest fad diet or trendy weight loss program — after all, their purpose is to get people hooked on their products. But while quick fixes are tempting, they don’t provide sustainable results.

A calorie deficit is essential for losing weight, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of nutrition. Improving the nutritional quality of your diet is just as essential as thinking about your calories.

If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend learning more about which types of foods provide more nutritional bang for your buck and choosing more of those. Prioritize minimally processed foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and lean proteins.

Avoid ultra-processed foods as they tend to be high in calories, sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar but low in nutrition.

Get Better Sleep

What does sleep have to do with weight loss? When you don’t sleep well, you probably don’t really feel like exercising. Plus, you’re more likely to choose less healthy food options.

Of course, it’s okay to take a rest day or enjoy your favorite treat as a pick-me-up, but ongoing sleep deprivation can make weight loss more difficult.

Experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep for adults. This allows your body to rest, rejuvenate, and repair and helps keep your appetite-regulating hormones in balance.

Hydrate

Your body loses fluid through sweating, using the bathroom, and other everyday bodily functions. It needs to be replenished, so hydration is essential to staying healthy and reaching weight loss goals.

Sipping water throughout the day helps support healthy digestion and fat burning. Drinking it before and during meals can also help promote satiety and prevent overeating.

Ditch sugary sodas, energy drinks, and fruit juices, and prioritize water intake. If plain water gets boring, try infusing it with cucumber, lemon, or mint leaves or substituting herbal tea or unsweetened seltzer water.

If you’re being shamed about your use of weight loss medication, remember that your health journey is personal and valid. But hurtful comments can still sting, so what can you do?

Start by educating yourself about weight loss medication and its benefits so you feel confident about using it. You’ll likely get questions from friends, family, and others who are curious or even critical about it and it helps when you can answer those questions.

Remember that shaming often stems from ignorance. Respond confidently but calmly when faced with shaming comments, emphasizing that your health decisions are between you and your healthcare provider. Having factual information ready helps.

What other people say about your choice to use Ozempic isn’t a reflection of your worth or how well the medication can work. But don't be afraid to seek support if shaming becomes overwhelming.

Above all else, focus on your well-being and the positive changes you're making for your health. You’re worth it!

Shaming is never okay, and body positivity has a long way to go.

Adding Ozempic to your weight loss routine isn't "cheating" — it's working smarter. We encourage you to be open and share your experience using it with those around you rather than trying to hide it.

If you want to explore weight loss medication options with a Hers licensed healthcare provider, start by taking our free online assessment.

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  14. Westbury S, et al. (2023). Obesity stigma: causes, consequences, and potential solutions.
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.