The Ozempic trend is sweeping the country and not just Hollywood. Aside from celebrities taking the type 2 diabetes drug and its fellow semaglutide, obesity drug Wegovy, people who aren’t in the spotlight are following suit but finding it difficult to keep up the expensive habit, so are opting for a budget weight option, laxatives. The United States is now experiencing a laxative shortage, partly due to a TikTok trend favoring them as a budget weight loss option instead of Ozempic. Many videos endorse stool-softening medications Miralax, Ex-Lax, and Glycolax as a way to lose weight quickly.
According to Dr. Steven Batash, MD, laxatives are a concerning approach to weight loss. While they may offer temporary weight loss, it’s predominantly water weight, not actual fat loss. The dangers include dehydration, imbalance of vital electrolytes, and the potential for laxative dependency. We spoke to Dr. Batash about this emerging trend and the risks involved.
ESSENCE: Please speak about the Ozempic trend. What’s it all about?
Dr. Steven Batash: People are jumping on the Ozempic bandwagon in hopes of a quick fix to losing weight. While it’s easy to think that Ozempic and other off-label medications garner the results they want to see, these medications don’t guarantee long-term weight loss. Most people regain the weight once they stop taking these medications. As for women of color participating, this may be related to the increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes in this demographic.
Is the Ozempic trend dangerous? What are some of the side effects?
The Ozempic trend is not inherently dangerous if used in moderation and under a doctor’s supervision, but it’s essential to recognize potential side effects. GLP-1 agonist medications don’t work for some people. Many will not feel a sense of fullness. Others experience bad side effects, such as stomach pains and headaches, and cannot continue with these types of meds. Some people should not be taking these meds due to family history, so it is important to be under physician supervision.
Talk about the budget Ozempic trend. What’s the difference?
The “budget Ozempic” trend refers to the use of laxatives for weight loss, and it’s important to highlight that this is not related to Ozempic itself, a GLP-1 agonist medication for diabetes. Patients using laxatives only lose water weight in their bodies, which is different from fat loss. Turning to laxatives for weight loss can lead to serious side effects since losing water in the body can lead to dehydration and disrupt body functions.
Why do you think people are consuming laxatives instead of Ozempic?
Choosing laxatives over Ozempic may stem from misconceptions about quick weight loss and affordability. Laxatives are often readily available and inexpensive, making them seem like an attractive option. However, this approach is ineffective in the long run and can potentially harm the body. Laxatives can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and nutrient deficiencies, posing serious health risks.
Does this guarantee weight loss? Is it dangerous?
Neither Ozempic nor laxatives guarantee weight loss. Ozempic may assist some individuals in losing weight, but each body reacts in its way. Additionally, people taking Ozempic must follow a balanced diet and exercise to maintain sustainable weight loss. On the other hand, Laxatives do not promote sustainable weight loss and can be dangerous due to their effects on the body. Weight loss should always be approached in a well-informed and medically supervised manner to minimize risks and achieve lasting results.
What can the alternatives be? What do you suggest as a health professional?
As a health professional, I recommend a comprehensive approach to weight management. This includes adopting a balanced and nutritious diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and focusing on mental health to address emotional aspects of eating. While medications like Ozempic can be considered under the guidance of a healthcare provider, they should complement, not replace, a healthy lifestyle. Surgery may be an option for some, but it should only be considered after careful evaluation and as part of a broader weight management plan. Our bodies react differently, so it’s important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the best approach based on your body’s specific needs and circumstances.