“Everyone’s on it,” says Dr Daniel Ghiyam whose “medical spa” in Ventura county, California, offers skin tightening, body contouring, vaginal rejuvenation and, lately, injections of Semaglutide, the active ingredient in a new drug called Ozempic. To hear Ghiyam tell it, these injections are Hollywood’s worst-kept secret.
“A lot of celebrities are on it,” he says. “Everyone’s who’s not talking about it is on the stuff.”
Ozempic has become so popular in the last two years because it makes people lose weight fast. It’s so controversial because of the way it works: by triggering a chemical repugnance to food itself. After being injected with Ozempic, a user could try to imagine a moist slab of black forest gateau, or a calorically-dense, half-pound Baconator bacon cheeseburger from Wendy’s, and their body physically revolts, with spasms of nausea and waves of ill feeling. It’s the chemical realization of a behavioral psychologist’s wildest dream; A Clockwork Orange for junk food, an eating disorder in an injection.
On TikTok, videos documenting Ozempic-assisted weight loss have racked up hundreds of millions of views. Elsewhere on the internet, speculation that Ozempic has catalyzed the drastic body transformations of celebrities runs wild. A number of musicians and actors told the Guardian that they personally knew high-profile people in their industries using Ozempic, although none would go on record. Ghiyam has joined in on the publicity push himself, with his own informational #OzempicWeightLoss TikToks reeling in hundreds of thousands of views.
The world’s wealthiest individual, Elon Musk, has also praised the drug, publicly and unabashedly.
One of Ozempic’s side effects is that it reduces appetite – leading to weight loss. Photograph: FotoDuets/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Ozempic is also advertised regularly on TV: the ubiquitous commercials feature various characters who, having stabilized their blood sugar levels, are living healthy, active lives. “Oh!” they exclaim, turning to the camera, barely containing their excitement, as the soundtrack – set to the earwormy melody of Magic, the breakout 1974 single by Scottish soft-rockers Pilot – crescendos. Oh! Oh! Oh! Ozeeeeempic!
But the ad mentions weight loss only as an afterthought. In the motormouth recitation of precautions and potential side effects that underscore pharmaceutical ads, the voiceover says off-handedly “You may lose …….