A 'miracle' obesity cure, or dangerous TikTok trend adored by Hollywood? trends now
Overhauling diet and adopting an intensive exercise routine used to be the go-to approach for anyone looking to shift the scales.
But now there's a 'miracle' remedy which effectively offers the overweight a cheat code — allowing them to drastically lose weight without needing to eat buckets of spinach or work-out until drenched in sweat.
A TikTok-inspired craze has seen semaglutide become the world's, and Hollywood's, hottest product.
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson (left) revealed this month that he was taking Ozempic in a bid to lose weight. When asked in October whether following a healthier diet or hitting the gym was behind his 30lb (13.6kg) weight loss, Elon Musk (right) credited 'fasting' and 'Wegovy'
Comedian and TV host Chelsea Handler (left) revealed she took the drug after being prescribed it by her doctor — but said it made her nauseous. TikTok star Remi Bader (right) revealed that she was prescribed Ozempic by her doctor in 2020 'before it was trendy'
The wonder drug, branded as Ozempic or Wegovy, is given as an injection straight into the stomach, thigh or upper arm.
It suppresses hunger by mimicking an appetite-regulating hormone, leaving users feeling fuller for longer.
But, while the planet's leading obesity experts accept its obvious benefit of losing weight, they warn it is not a magic bullet to stay slim.
And it may trigger unpleasant side effects, from nausea and diarrhoea to pancreatitis and gallbladder problems.
Confusingly, semaglutide is branded as two separate drugs, both of which are made by Denmark-based pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk.
Ozempic, which is experiencing a surge in popularity, is targeted at patients with type 2 diabetes. It lowers their blood sugar and reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes among those who also have heart disease.
The NHS watchdog approved Ozempic for people with type 2 diabetes in 2019, while health chiefs in the US gave it the green light for the same group in 2017.
Private clinics in the UK can give patients the drug off-label for just under £200 per month, while it is freely available in the US.
Novo Nordisk has warned it does not support off-label prescribing, which can limit supply for type 2 diabetes patients who have been prescribed the medication.
Its sister drug Wegovy, packed with a slightly more potent dose of the wonder chemical, has been available for people who are overweight and have at least one weight-related condition since 2021 in the US and 2022 in the UK.
Wegovy is expected to become available under a private prescription in the UK later this year. It is already widely available in the US.
Thanks to the hype, demand has shot through the roof for its fat-busting effects.
There have been shortages of both drugs due to their surge in popularity, with some UK doctors comparing it to the 'HRT panic' seen last year, which led to women meeting in carparks to swap medication when supply dried up.
Semaglutide acts like a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which targets areas of the brain that regulate appetite and food intake — making users feel less hungry.
It also slows down the movement of food in the gut, which helps users stay full for longer.
Clinical trials show that those taking the drug lost up to 15.3kg (2 stone and 6lbs), on average, over the space of 15 months, compared to just 2.6kg (6lbs) in the placebo group.
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson revealed this month that he was taking Ozempic in a bid to lose weight.
He said he was introduced to the injectable drug after learning that his friends were taking 'a new Danish drug' to ward off diabetes and 'when questioned they all raved about it'.
The 62-year-old, who has in the past tried to slim through eating healthier and exercising, described its effects as being 'genuinely incredible'.
When asked in October whether following a healthier diet or hitting the gym was behind his 30lb (13.6kg) weight loss, Elon Musk credited 'fasting' and 'Wegovy'.
TikTok star Remi Bader revealed that she was prescribed Ozempic by her doctor in 2020 'before it was trendy'.
Celebrities including Elon Musk, Jeremy Clarkson and Remi Bader have spoke out about the 'genuinely incredible' Ozempic, which suppresses appetite and leaves users feeling fuller for longer