Fitness trainer Jillian Michaels has sparked controversy by claiming Oprah Winfrey is promoting the diabetes drug Ozempic for weight loss in order to profit financially. Michaels warns of potentially dangerous long-term effects and accuses the media mogul of a conflict of interest.
Background on Ozempic and the Recent Craze
Ozempic, also known as semaglutide, is an injectable drug originally approved in 2017 for treating type 2 diabetes. Recently, it has become a popular off-label treatment for weight loss among celebrities after Elon Musk attributed his slimmer figure to taking it.
The frenzy over using Ozempic for weight loss really took off after Kim Kardashian admitted to taking it. Searches for the drug spiked in 2023, with many chasing the so-called “Ozempic face” slimming effect. However, as demand has skyrocketed, there are now widespread shortages impacting those who need it for diabetes management.
Michaels Warns of “Massive Fallout” from Ozempic Craze
Speaking to E! News, Jillian Michaels gave a stark warning about what she sees as the irresponsible promotion and use of Ozempic solely for cosmetic weight loss purposes:
“There is going to be a massive fallout from this Ozempic craze,” Michaels predicted. “Mark my words, in five years we’re going to see all these people who lost weight quickly by stimulating their thyroid and metabolizing tissue, not fat, who will gain all the weight back plus some.”
She expressed concerns about potential long-term impacts like thyroid, heart and kidney damage. Michaels also warned of what she dubbed “Ozempic face,” claiming:
“Right now everyone thinks Ozempic face is so hot…but in 10 years that look might not age so gracefully.”
Accusations Leveled at Oprah Winfrey
Most controversially, Michaels directly called out Oprah Winfrey, suggesting the famous former talk show host has financial incentives pushing her to promote Ozempic:
“I think Oprah has partnership deals, just like Kim and Khloé do, with Ozempic,” Michaels said. “So although Oprah reversed her stance on weight loss meds and is now promoting Ozempic, she stands to profit.”
Previously, Winfrey had spoken out strongly against using drugs for weight loss after her public struggle to lose weight. Michaels argues she has now changed her stance because of the lucrative promotional opportunities.
In an Instagram post earlier this month, Winfrey credited Ozempic as one factor that “finally helped me lose those last few pounds.” Michaels posted a response addressed directly to Winfrey:
“Oprah allowed WW (Weight Watchers) to use her name/image to make over a billion dollars while claiming to promote self love and body acceptance…Now she has a financial stake in Ozaempic, a drug never meant for weight loss. This is why telling the whole truth matters.”
Putting Profits Over Patients? Impacts of the Shortages
With demand far outstripping supply, there are now chronic shortages of Ozempic that critics like Michaels blame on the irresponsible promotion of off-label usage.
- As per the table below, prescriptions jumped from around 5,000 per week in early 2022 to over 352,000 per week currently:
|Ozempic Prescriptions Per Week
|Jan 3, 2022
|Jan 2, 2023
|Jan 1, 2024
This has made it very difficult for the 1.2 million Americans with type 2 diabetes who rely on Ozempic. Many can no longer access the medication they need.
There are growing calls for tighter regulation around off-label promotion to prevent shortages. Prioritizing profits over patients whose lives depend on drugs like Ozempic is seen as unethical by critics.
What Does This Controversy Say About Society’s Focus on Looks?
On a societal level, Michaels points out that the drive for thinness and the pursuit of “Ozempic face” raises deeper questions about the disturbing ways our culture values appearance over health.
“Is weight loss really worth elevating your cortisol levels, gaining the weight back, damaging your thyroid, and depleting your serotonin long-term? Every time you walk past a mirror, your body dysmorphia is getting triggered – is that really healthy mentally?”
Many are questioning why so many feel the need to turn to extreme measures with potentially serious side effects just to attain often unrealistic beauty standards. The Ozempic craze reflects just how fixated society has become on aesthetics rather than true wellbeing.
What Happens Next? Calls for Action and Change
In light of these controversies, there are increasing demands for accountability and systemic changes:
- More regulation around off-label promotion of drugs like Ozempic when it leads to access issues for approved use patients
- Increased transparency from celebrities and influencers regarding paid promotions and commercial interests
- A shift in societal attitudes and the way the mainstream media promotes unhealthy appearance ideals and extreme dieting behaviors
- An emphasis by public figures on embracing body positivity and setting a healthy example for impressionable young followers
This ongoing debate sparked passionate reactions from all sides, but it remains to be seen whether it will lead to meaningful improvements. For her part, Jillian Michaels plans to continue speaking out when she sees dangerous trends promoted for profit over public health. Only time will tell whether her dire predictions about the fallout from this latest diet drug craze come true.
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