One woman told Insider she's hiding her weight loss drug use from her husband and kids to avoid judgment.
Others on social media say they don't like being told they're taking the drug from "more deserving" people.
Some people are more open about using semaglutide, citing the need to fight stigma.
It's a good thing Jennifer's family isn't a fan of Facebook or figs.
Otherwise, they might discover her secret: She's been on the weight-loss drug Wegovy, a brand of the generic drug semaglutide, for the past five months. She uses Facebook to connect with other users, and an old fig bag to stash the injectable drugs in the fridge.
"Nobody touches it," said Jennifer, an educator on the East Coast. Insider has verified her identity, though her name has been changed in this story to allow her to speak openly about her double life.
Sure, her husband and adult children have noticed her shrinking frame, but they're used to her body size fluctuating. Jennifer has been on and off diets for much of her adult life, and tells her family that her latest 35-pound weight loss is thanks to new exercise equipment and a low-carb diet.
If her family knew the truth, Jennifer told Insider, they'd try to talk her out of it since, for them, maintaining fit figures comes easily. "They just do not get the struggle," she said.
Jennifer isn't the only one keeping her use of semaglutide, the generic name for Wegovy and diabetes drug Ozempic, private. Social media posts on the topic suggest that people keep the medication use secret from loved ones because they're scared of being judged, or worried that the treatment won't work.
And while side effects like vomiting and incontinence risk outing some users, Jennifer said she's been lucky her reactions have been mild. "My plan is to tell no one unless it's absolutely necessary," she said.
Some people on Wegovy and Ozempic say they want to avoid judgment
Semaglutide, an injectable drug taken typically taken weekly, works in part by increasing satiety and slowing digestion, which can dull cravings. It also interferes with the brain's reward circuit, making some highly caloric foods undesirable or, for some, repulsive.
Research has found it can lead to a 15% to 20% reduction in body weight over 68 weeks when paired with a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise.
But for some people, its use is shrouded in shame related to false cultural narratives that weight loss and maintenance is merely an issue of willpower.
"I don't like the idea that people think this is a cop-out," Jennifer said. "It is hard work. I still have to eat at a calorie deficit to lose and I still have to work out. My goal isn't less worthy because Wegovy is helping me reach my goals."
In a Reddit community for semaglutide users, other people anonymously shared similar sentiments. "I have not told anyone I'm taking this, even my husband," one poster wrote. "I just don't want the lectures from my kids and friends."
The post received nearly 250 comments from people who could relate. "[My husband] just thinks exercise and willpower will help me lose 40 lb. Hmmm. NO. I have been on starvation mode for a year and lost 10 lb. So, no. I need help," one commenter wrote.
Another common theme: People on semaglutide for weight loss said they don't want to hear that they're draining the supply from "more deserving people," like people with diabetes, who the drug Ozempic was originally approved for. Wegovy has since been approved for weight loss for people with a BMI of 30 or more, or people with a BMI or 27 or more with weight-related health conditions. But that hasn't stopped other people from taking the drug off-label.
"I'm not sure other people would think I was overweight 'enough,'" Jennifer said.
Others said they didn't want loved ones to worry about them. "[My partner] doesn't like me taking anything that can cause side effects or cause me any issues," one Reddit poster wrote.
Keeping it a secret may be difficult
For some people, the semaglutide side effects make keeping use of the drug a secret near-impossible. Angela Adams previously told Insider her partner and boss were well aware of her Wegovy use, since the intense fatigue took a toll on her work and relationships. She also dealt with severe constipation and unpredictable diarrhea.
According to Wegovy's prescribing information, clinical trials have shown that 30% of patients experience diarrhea on the drug and 24% experience constipation. The most common side effect of the drug is nausea, which 44% of people in clinical trials experienced. Other side effects can include dizziness, gas, bloating, and acid reflux.
The sudden changes to people's eating patterns and preferences can tip off family members and friends too. Staci Rice previously told Insider her kids and husband are "kind of upset" ground beef is no longer a dinner staple.
On Reddit, users questioned how people could hide the injections, which require refrigeration before opening, from housemates. "I have this spot in the fridge that you can't really see and since I'm the only one who cleans that darn thing no one seems to notice," one poster answered.
Not everyone is keeping it a secret, however. Other Wegovy and Ozempic users encouraged people to reveal their use, either because it may be relevant in the case of a medical emergency, or to help fight stigma against the drug's role in weight loss.
"I tell everyone and people are probably sick of hearing me sema-blah blah blah," one Reddit user said on the same post. "Same!" another wrote. "At this point they should hire me as a sales person."
Do you have an experience taking semaglutide, Ozempic, or Wegovy that you'd like to share? Reach out to our reporter at email@example.com
Read the original article on Insider