Ozempic: It’s the drug everyone can’t stop talking about. And since Zero is already delivering on the promise drugs like Ozempic are making — helping millions of people lose weight and gain health — I wanted to share my take.
If you haven’t yet heard of Ozempic, otherwise known as a “GLP-1 receptor agonist,” here’s the gist: Generically, it goes by the name semaglutide and was originally developed to treat type-2 diabetes. In the context of weight loss, it works by mimicking a hormone that’s released in the gut in response to eating. It’s essentially an appetite suppressant, telling your brain you’re full even when you haven’t eaten a big meal.
If you’ve been following the GLP-1 discourse, I don’t have to tell you it’s controversial. From off-label use winnowing the supply available to diabetics, to wealthy celebrities crediting it with their transformations from “thin” to “even thinner,” the drug has been part of the cultural zeitgeist since springtime this year.
I fully recognize that many of these controversies have merit. The drug is financially inaccessible for many of the people who need it most, we don’t yet fully understand its long-term impact on health, and as with any pharmaceutical intervention, it’s not a magic bullet.
Still, GLP-1s excite me. It’s incredible to think that we are living through a time when science and medicine might have created a pharmaceutical intervention that can help people break free from obesity — a condition that affects approximately 1 billion people (yes, billion with a “b”) worldwide.
To say that all of these people are to blame for their condition is insane to me. We all know a friend, family member, or coworker who has carried 50+ extra pounds since you met them. You’ve observed their habits, and they don’t seem to eat or exercise differently from anyone else you know. They probably have tried a diet or two (or twelve). They’ve tried strenuous exercise, zone-2 exercise, yoga. Yet they simply cannot lose the weight and keep it off. Maybe that person is you.
Obesity is not a moral failing; it’s no more your fault than high cholesterol is for someone who tried diet and exercise and eventually went on a statin. We don’t shame people with high cholesterol, and it’s my hope that this is what GLP-1s will do for people with obesity: move the conversation away from “there are just some people with no willpower or self-control” and toward “obesity is a disease that we treat like other diseases: with lifestyle interventions and then, if necessary, with appropriate medications.”
I’m also excited because I see Zero as a perfect complement to GLP-1s. Some people will try the drug and be unable to tolerate it, others may want to try it but be unable to afford it, and still others may reject it because they simply don’t want to be on lifelong medication.
Zero is another approach that is simple, effective, and low cost. We motivate you to form simple healthy habits that, unlike extreme diet or exercise routines, are relatively easy to habituate and maintain for the rest of your life.
This “lifelong health” approach is what makes us a good fit for GLP-1 patients, too. Because many people who go on medication to improve their health and even save their life inevitably start thinking more seriously about how they can be their healthiest self in order to live a longer, better life. This is my ambition for Zero: that we ultimately become a compelling daily companion for people around the world to live healthier and happier for the rest of their lives, GLP-1 or not.
But for now, back to the present. There’s no victory lap in the near future. This drug doesn’t get rid of the culture of shame we live in, nor does it solve the other barriers, like tolerance for the drug or affordability. Still, I’m excited because of the shift it might represent and the hope it offers. I can personally attest that my health and self-esteem improved when I finally reached a healthy weight I could maintain. I’m excited for everyone who has experienced a similar struggle and who might finally find health and acceptance thanks to GLP-1s. And I look forward to seeing Zero help people at any stage of their health journey.