• New drugs like Ozempic can suppress appetite and cause significant weight loss

  • Johann Hari's new book Magic Pill is a personal exploration of the benefits and risks of these drugs

The first time Johann Hari learned about weight loss drug Ozempic, he was at his first post-Covid party, a celebrity do where he hoped he wouldn't be the only one who had put on a little lockdown weight. Instead, everyone he saw was extra slim, "gaunt, looking like their own Snapchat filter." Was it Pilates? he wondered. His friend and fellow guest laughed, before letting him in on the secret. "I don't think there's ever been a topic," Hari recalls "where I've ever felt so emotionally conflicted."

Thus began Hari's personal journey to explore the benefits and risks of these new weight loss drugs. And Magic Pill is a very personal exploration. Hari is honest about his complicated relationship to food and eating, and its roots in his family system. It's also a family history of heart problems that was a major motivator for Hari to try the drugs. 

As he discovered, however, taking the drugs lead to more than a physical transformation – he was faced with uncomfortable feelings and thoughts when his ability to self-soothe using food was taken away from him. "Because these drugs so significantly affect your eating patterns, one thing they do is bring to the surface the underlying psychological issues that were driving your eating all along."

The effects of new weight loss drugs like Ozempic is staggering – the average person who uses Ozempic will lose 15% of their body weight over a year, even newer drugs like Mounjaro it's more likely to be 20%. The drugs work by powerfully suppressing appetite, meaning you feel fuller more quickly. 

Obesity is thought to lead to a huge host of health complications, increasing your chances of numerous diseases. Reducing rates of obesity would improve many, many people's health outcomes significantly. But these are new drugs, so what do we actually know about their long-term effectiveness and the health risks? And do they address the core social issues within our social and food systems, or are they a quick-fix that dangerously over promises?

Find out more in our interview with Johann Hari here:

Johann Hari is the author of Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight Loss Drugs

Further reading

Shame, guilt and your relationship with food

6 ways to break binge eating patterns