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Ozempic: Weight Loss Miracle Drug or Something Darker? Johann Hari on The Benefits & Risks

By May 23, 2024No Comments
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Episode #834



The quest for a magic pill to melt away excess weight has pervaded human culture for centuries. Fad diets, quack tonics, and mystic elixirs have all offered the allure of achieving idealized bodies.

A new class of drugs is turning that fantasy into reality—leading to astonishing weight loss with just weekly injections. But is Ozempic the miracle cure for the global obesity epidemic or a Faustian bargain? 

My guest today is Johann Hari, a New York Times bestselling author, journalist, and creator of viral TED talks that have been watched over 90 million times. He has written for the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Politico. Back for his third appearance on the show (RRP #416 and RRP #661), he’s here to share fresh insights from his latest book, Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight-Loss Drugs, which is a researched yet personalized look at the revolutionary potential and risks of these new weight loss drugs.

Today, we discuss his journey into the world of the new weight loss drug phenomenon, Ozempic. Johann shares his surprising firsthand experience injecting himself weekly with the drug for over a year, leading to dramatic weight loss but also complex side effects. We explore the staggering possibility of these “magic pills” to curb the global obesity epidemic, but also the alarming threats like thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, and muscle wasting. 

“Ozempic will change the world for better and for worse.”


Johann provides a nuanced look at the bigger picture—examining the role of pharmaceutical profit, societal pressures around body image, and whether medicalizing thinness addresses root causes.

We contemplate the philosophical and cultural difficulties of prioritizing thinness through medical intervention instead of tackling the underlying causes of obesity, disordered eating, societally-induced body image issues, and more.

Is turning our bodies into injected, altered versions of themselves the solution? Or are we just kicking the can further down an even darker road? 

However, obesity rates have tripled over the last 50 years, impacting over 1 billion people and causing millions of preventable deaths annually. If a simple weekly injection can melt away the condition and its devastating effects, is that not a miracle to be embraced?

For those who prefer a visual experience, the conversation is available on YouTube. As always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Johann brings his signature vulnerability and intellectual bravery to this conversation. His inquiries into the ethics and societal ramifications of medicalizing weight loss have me rethinking many assumptions. 

Whether you’re considering Ozempic, grappling with obesity, or wanting to learn more about human will, growth, and body autonomy, this is a must-listen conversation.

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