- “The Real Housewives of Orange County” star Emily Simpson recently revealed that she had been shamed for using Ozempic to lose weight.
- Experts say shaming can occur because people don’t understand the drugs or think they are a shortcut.
- However, shaming can be damaging to people’s self-esteem.
- It’s important for people to understand that drugs like Ozempic are only a tool for improving their health.
- It’s still necessary to eat a good diet and get more exercise in order to lose weight.
When people take steps to improve their health, they should receive praise for their accomplishments, right? After all, eating healthy and starting up an exercise program is hard work.
Emily Simpson, star of “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” recently told Good Morning America that she had found herself being to subjected this type of behavior on social media after shedding 30 pounds in between seasons of the reality series.
“People thought that I just miraculously lost all this weight, like within like a week … or a month, because they see me on TV, and then they would see a photo that I posted,” she told the morning show. “They’re like, ‘Oh, well, she must be on Ozempic and she lost all this weight doing that.'”
Simpson shared that the negative comments came despite the fact that she was sharing videos of herself at the gym working out.
The reality star added that one thing that particularly surprised her was the fact that she was being judged more harshly for using Ozempic than she was for also having liposuction done.
“People get really angry,” she said. “I don’t understand the anger. That’s the part that confuses me.”
“One is that prescription weight loss treatments [like Ozempic] are relatively new, and not everyone understands how they’re used and who they’re for,” said Atkinson.
Additionally, they are given to people when measures like diet and exercise haven’t been effective.
Atkinson said the goal of treatment is to get people’s weight down to a healthier BMI below 25 in order to reduce their risk of illnesses related to obesity.
“So while there is the aesthetic benefit that they help people become slimmer, they’re primarily more to help people live longer, healthier lives (and reduce preventable death),” he said.
Atkinson added that another reason people cast judgment is they think people are taking a shortcut to weight loss rather than doing the hard work of dieting and exercising.
But they aren’t, he said. “[W]hen you use any prescription treatment for weight loss, it won’t work if you don’t eat healthily, and do some level (150 minutes a week ideally) of physical activity alongside it.”
He further explained that some drugs work by reducing your intake of fat from the food you eat while others tell your brain that you are full before you eat too much.
“But what you do eat will still need to be good, healthy, and nutritious food for the treatment to work,” said Atkinson. “Eating foods that are high in sugar or saturated fat will slow treatment down and make it less effective.”
In other words, drugs like Ozempic aren’t some sort of cheat code for weight loss. You still have to do the work of eating well and moving your body in order to get results.
Dr. Dina Peralta-Reich, who is the director of New York Weight Wellness Medicine and a double board-certified MD specializing in Obesity Medicine and Pediatrics, said that shaming can be harmful to those who experience it.
“It can be damaging to individuals’ self-esteem,” she said, “sometimes leading them to question if their efforts toward achieving their goals are good enough.”
Peralta-Reich noted that medications shouldn’t be the first tools used to aid with weight management in most cases.
However, a significant number of people who use GLP-1 medications like Ozempic, are using them because lifestyle changes alone haven’t worked for them.
“We must acknowledge obesity as a chronic disease,” she explained. “Once we do so, I believe there will be a greater understanding of GLP-1s.”
“[W]e don’t simply advise patients to ‘take a walk’ or ‘breathe deeply,”‘ she said. “We don’t subject those conditions to the same stigma we often attach to obesity.”
“It’s not as straightforward as going for a walk or even adjusting your diet – there are multifaceted external influences contributing to it, and sometimes lifestyle modifications on their own are not enough.”
Peralta-Reich further pointed to other health conditions like high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction, noting that we don’t hesitate to encourage people to take medications for these conditions in order to improve their well-being and day-to-day quality of life.
“Similarly, in the case of obesity, society should offer support rather than shaming individuals striving for a healthier lifestyle,” she concluded.
Peralta-Reich advised that it’s important to have a good line of communication with your doctor.
“Our role involves aiding patients in overcoming feelings of shame while fostering a deeper understanding of obesity,” she said.
“By doing so, you can reduce the impact of external opinions,” she said, “particularly when those viewpoints lack evidence-based support.”
Atkinson further suggested that you keep in mind who you are losing weight for — yourself. Or perhaps you have the desire to be able to spend more quality time with friends and family, he pointed out.
“Ultimately it’s your health at stake,” he said.
“As long as you’re using a licensed treatment safely and as recommended by the doctor or clinician who prescribed it for you,” concluded Atkinson, “the negative opinion of someone else outside this shouldn’t influence you doing something to be healthier.”
People who use drugs like Ozempic to lose weight are finding themselves being shamed by others, especially if they are people in the spotlight like reality star Emily Simpson.
Often this comes from people not understanding how the drugs work or thinking that they are a shortcut to weight loss.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that they are only one tool in your weight loss toolkit. You still have to eat well and exercise.
Experts say you can overcome the negative effects of shaming by working with your doctor to understand the truth about these medications and reminding yourself that the only opinion that matters is your own.