How China became hooked on Ozempic: World's most obese country - where ... trends now

How China became hooked on Ozempic: World's most obese country - where ... trends now
How China became hooked on Ozempic: World's most obese country - where ... trends now

How China became hooked on Ozempic: World's most obese country - where ... trends now

Ozempic has become synonymous with Hollywood, where it has helped a number of stars shed weight — but there is a secret booming market in China

Despite being cut off from Instagram and much of Western culture, the drug has become mainstream in Chinese internet culture, with social media stars showing off their svelte physiques and promoting its effects.

It is technically only available for diabetics with a prescription, but a 'gray market' of e-commerce websites have begun selling it to people who self-report their diabetes without a doctor's note. 

And weight-loss is proving big business in China.

The US is often dubbed the 'fattest country on Earth' due to the fact 40 percent of adults have a body mass index of 30 or higher. 

But the sheer size of China's population means there are actually 200million obese people there compared to America's 139million.

Like in the US, Ozempic is only approved for the treatment of diabetes in China, but that hasn't stopped people from buying it on websites to use off-label to lose weight , fueling a 'gray market' for the drug

Like in the US, Ozempic is only approved for the treatment of diabetes in China, but that hasn't stopped people from buying it on websites to use off-label to lose weight , fueling a 'gray market' for the drug

A further 400million are overweight in China, compared to the US' 103million residents who are overweight.

The result of the obesity epidemic in both countries has led to a multi-billion weight-loss industry, which recently has come to include the blockbuster weight-loss drug Ozempic.  

In 2022, sales of Ozempic in China reached $2.2billion and analysts predict sales of the medication and those similar will reach $5.6billion by 2031. 

While in the US, there were $8.4billion in Ozempic sales, with the weight-loss drug industry projected to grow to $100billion by 2030.

Demand for Ozempic has surged more than 300 percent since 2020 in the US. In China, GLP-1 drugs, which also include Wegovy and Victoza, make up a $1.7billion market. 

Ozempic is a GLP-1 agonist and contains the active ingredient semaglutide. It works by suppressing hormones involved in hunger, keeping you fuller for longer and decreasing appetite. 

Like in the US, Ozempic is only approved for the treatment of diabetes in China, which is home to a much larger diabetic population - 89million compared to America's 38million.

And while a majority of China's Ozempic sales are for diabetic patients, there are still vast numbers of people buying it on websites to use off-label to lose weight, creating a 'gray market' for the drug.

Fueling the rise of off-label Ozempic demand in China are posts on Chinese social media apps

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