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For those who wished for "a magic fix" for weight loss, Ozempic craze can trigger complicated feelings

Are enough doctors trained on obesity drugs?
Are enough doctors trained on obesity medicine? 02:54

While research has looked at the potential mental health impact of taking semaglutide drugs like Ozempic, less has been discussed on how the increase in these drugs are impacting those who aren't taking them. 

Heather Young said she's struggled with weight her entire life, telling CBS News that her teen years and early adulthood were filled with trying "one thing after another only to fail again and again and again and just feel so defeated."

For people like her, the 37-year-old said, "all we ever wanted was a magic fix. Instead, we were bombarded with diet culture, harmful pills, calorie counting and fad diet after fad diet."

Now, as medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro and Zepbound have boomed in popularity for their use in weight loss, helping people and celebrities alike lose pounds fast, it's striking a complicated chord.

"My initial feelings were definitely complex," Young said of the craze. "On one hand, I want everyone to be (their) best selves — physically, mentally and emotionally. And if there is a medication that makes that more obtainable for people, I am happy for them. But… I do think these drugs are being marketed as a magic fix, and it does trigger me."

Ozempic and Mounjaro,  both used for diabetes, and Wegovy and Zepbound, both approved for weight loss, are GLP-1 drugs, a class of medicines that signal fullness to the brain and regulate blood sugar. 

Dr. Rekha Kumar, an obesity specialist and chief medical officer at weight loss app Found, previously told CBS News these drugs are "a scientific breakthrough." 

"Not just because of weight control, but because of cardiovascular risk reduction (and) treating diabetes. People are actually getting healthier, and that's the point of medicine. It isn't just to be thinner," Kumar said. Though she acknowledged being thinner is what is causing buzz — and that concerns her.

"We're seeing people want to get ahold of these medicines that don't need them at all - people trying to fit into dresses, and wanting to lose the vanity weight," she said. "And that's not really what these were made for." 

The buzz has also created high demand, prompting companies like Costco and Hims & Hers to get in on the GLP-1 boom as well as dangerous counterfeits that have popped up on social media.

Young isn't alone in her feelings, either.

Victoria Garrick Browne, a mental health advocate who has been outspoken about her battle with a binge eating disorder, shared a similar sentiment during a recent episode of her "Real Pod" podcast.

"The Ozempic craze has been really hard for me because when I was younger, all I wanted was a magic pill that would make me lose 30 pounds," she shared. "I remember Googling, 'How do I lose 30 pounds in a month?' And it feels like now we have that. It's this drug that you inject and you lose all this weight. I feel like I'm seeing it in celebrities, in everyday life ... This thing we all thought was impossible for weight loss is now a real thing."

Even if someone has gone through a healing process with body image or their relationship with food, these challenges can "last a lifetime," said Alyssa Mairanz, a licensed mental health counselor and owner of Empower Your Mind Therapy

"Sometimes you find a healthy relationship, and in your adulthood, you can be re-triggered by so many factors," said Mairanz. "Many people find themselves re-triggered at different phases in adulthood."

Young said seeing ads for the drugs that promote "suppressing your appetite" and "reducing cravings" has also been hard.

"It really brought stuff up for me that completely contradicted my values around food these days," she said.

Mairanz said this type of messaging can add to the "culture of weight loss and body image as a whole and how our body looks versus how healthy our bodies actually are."

For anyone struggling with similar messaging, Mairanz urged people not to "connect your self-worth to what your body looks like."

"This can lead to frustration and potentially engaging in other damaging forms of weight loss," she said, adding to seek professional help if needed.

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