The use of diet pills has exploded: – I was desperate

– I was desperate for something that worked, says 27-year-old Celina Stamper from Stokke in Vestfold.

Celina struggles with overeating and sugar addiction. In addition, she has a BMI of 40.4 and is predisposed to diabetes.

The 27-year-old is far from alone. Because over one million Norwegians are overweight.

If you have a BMI of 40 or more, it is considered very serious obesity. A problem well over 100,000 Norwegians struggle with.

After trying several diets over the years, and quickly losing and gaining weight, Celina went to the doctor in despair.

Maybe she had something that could help?

SELF-IMAGE: Celina's weight has gone beyond the 27-year-old's self-image for a long time.  Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

SELF-IMAGE: Celina’s weight has gone beyond the 27-year-old’s self-image for a long time. Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

The 27-year-old was first put on a treatment called Mysimba, a prescription diet pill that can help overweight people lose weight.

But Celina experienced a number of strong side effects.

Then the doctor decided to do something unconventional.

– I was recommended to try Ozempic.

The medicine comes in syringe form, and must be placed either on the front of the thigh, in the stomach or in the upper arm once a week.

“Off label”

Ozempic is a medicine for people with diabetes 2, and thus not approved for use in the treatment of obesity.

However, diabetes patients discovered weight loss as a side effect because the medication suppresses the sweet tooth. Therefore, the medicine has also been used for this purpose.

Because it is not approved, Celina’s doctor has prescribed it “off label”, which means that she has a special responsibility for following up the patient and any side effects.

The 27-year-old says that she does not think it is problematic to undergo a treatment that is not approved for weight reduction.

– I wouldn’t have done this if the doctor hadn’t said it was a possibility.

ONCE A WEEK: The 27-year-old injects himself with a syringe once a week.  Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

ONCE A WEEK: The 27-year-old injects himself with a syringe once a week. Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

Celina is grateful that she has a doctor who sees the findings that have been made.

– It is also allowed to give, just that it is not covered by the state. Then you don’t do anything wrong, I mean.

She emphasizes that she is very much in favor of first and foremost making sure that you get the nutrition you need, and doing the training you need to get a healthy body.

– There will never be any medicines to replace it. But that there is something that can remove a sweet tooth, it has been a small miracle to be honest.

Explosive increase

The use of Ozempic for weight reduction has exploded around the world. The topic tag on TikTok has close to 290 million views.

Among the celebrities in Hollywood, there is talk that it is this medication which is used to achieve razor-slim and unattainable bodies.

HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS: Videos with the hashtag Ozempic have nearly 290 million views on TikTok.  Photo: Jonas Been Henriksen / TV 2

HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS: Videos with the hashtag Ozempic have nearly 290 million views on TikTok. Photo: Jonas Been Henriksen / TV 2

In Norway, sales have tripled or quadrupled since last year, according to the Norwegian Medicines Agency.

– On average, over 50,000 packs were sold per month in the last six months, says senior physician at the Norwegian Medicines Agency Ingrid Aas to TV 2.

Most people who use the medicine get it on a blue prescription, and thus for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

But over 20 per cent of sales are on white prescriptions, which means that the patient pays for the treatment themselves.

– It is reasonable to believe that these are patients who are prescribed the medicine as a slimming medicine.

The number of packs sold on white prescription has increased from just over 2,000 to 15,000 per month in the period April 2021 to October 2022. This corresponds to an increase of 650 per cent.

Graphics: Torleif Hamre / TV 2

Graphics: Torleif Hamre / TV 2

The explosive increase in the use of Ozempic has led to a large shortage of the product. Not only in Norway, but also in other parts of the world.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency stresses that, however, they are not concerned that the shortage will extend beyond the patients who need it for the treatment of diabetes, as there are other alternatives for these patient groups.

At home in her house in Stokke in Vestfold, Celina Stamper takes out the camera. The week’s dose of Ozempic must be injected, and those over 10,000 her followers on TikTok must be allowed to participate in the process.

Celina shares openly about both the ups and downs she has had since the treatment was started in July.

– It has been a roller coaster. I have had a lot of side effects such as nausea, tremors, poor appetite and weight loss. You want the last two, but then you have to expect that other side effects will also occur, she says.

The 27-year-old says that the biggest challenge has been that she feels exhausted.

– I have not received the profit that I envisioned. If you lose weight, I thought I would have more energy to exercise and try to eat healthy. But when you are exhausted and nauseous, you work a little against yourself, she says.

No “quick fix”

On TikTok, Celina is keen to be honest with her followers.

– This is not a “quick fix”.

– That is why I am careful to be transparent with my followers. If people ask me for advice, I tell them about my experiences. But first of all, I say they should contact a doctor.

The 27-year-old believes it is important to show the negative aspects of the treatment. Because she doesn’t hide that it’s a big part of it.

– The positive thing is that I lose half a kilo a week. But it requires more than it gives.

CHALLENGING: Celina recognizes that maintaining a healthy diet is challenging.  Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

CHALLENGING: Celina recognizes that maintaining a healthy diet is challenging. Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

That the use of Ozempic has become a kind of phenomenon in social media, Celina believes, can be a bit scary.

– I saw that there is speculation about whether the Kardashian family takes Ozempic. But they don’t exactly need that. I am categorized as very severely obese, and take it because I need it. That’s why it’s important that I show the lows I’ve had, not just that I took an injection and lost several kilos.

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Senior doctor concerned

Jøran Hjelmesæth is section chief physician at the center for morbid obesity in Health South-East. He looks at the development with concern.

– This is a diabetes medicine, which has weight reduction as a side effect. Studies indicate that it can have a five percent weight-reducing effect. But no clinical studies have been carried out, so doctors are not at all recommended to prescribe it as a treatment for obesity, he says to TV 2.

He emphasizes that it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe it “off label”, but believes it is still problematic.

– What we are afraid of are side effects. Although they are rare, they do occur. If they occur, it is a disaster for those concerned. In that case, the doctor who wrote it out is responsible.

CRITICAL: Head of the Center for Morbid Obesity in Health South-East, Jøran Hjelmesæth, is critical of the use of diabetes medication to treat obesity.  Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

CRITICAL: Head of the Center for Morbid Obesity in Health South-East, Jøran Hjelmesæth, is critical of the use of diabetes medication to treat obesity. Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

– Could it be a miracle cure?

– No, on the contrary. Because an average weight reduction of five percent is nothing compared to the other drugs that have been researched and that exist.

The doctor believes that it is the price of Ozempic that causes many people to resort to this particular drug instead of the others that exist.

However, Hjelmesæth is not surprised by the sharp increase.

– Obesity is a huge problem for many, and over one million Norwegians are obese with a BMI of 30 or more. For many people, it is easy to lose weight, but what is difficult is to keep the weight off afterwards.

The active substance in Ozempic is called semaglutide, and is found in several other medicines that are approved for use for weight reduction. The fact that medicines have been developed that can curb sweet tooth cravings is therefore referred to by experts as a miracle.

EXPENSIVE DROPS: The medicine costs Celina over NOK 1,000 a month.  - I think it is okay to pay that price.  It makes me put in a physical effort in terms of finances, and makes me see a seriousness in it.  Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

EXPENSIVE DROPS: The medicine costs Celina over NOK 1,000 a month. – I think it is okay to pay that price. It makes me put in a physical effort in terms of finances, and makes me see a seriousness in it. Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

– Thinking about it all the time

For 27-year-old Celina, the treatment has almost taken over everyday life.

– I think about it all the time, and I get tired.

She admits she is impatient about the weight loss, but is determined to see it through.

– I feel that feeling every day, and I want it to go much faster than it does. Some days I notice a sweet tooth, and then I think: “Wouldn’t that help with just that?”.

– I work against myself every single day. It is an eternal battle against the sweet tooth and overeating.

But she hopes that all the side effects and all the work she puts in will pay off in the end.

THE DREAM: Celina hopes the injection will help her achieve her dream of losing 50 kilos.  Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

THE DREAM: Celina hopes the injection will help her achieve her dream of losing 50 kilos. Photo: Marie Grensbråten Lorvik / TV 2

– I have a goal of losing a total of 50 kilos. It’s quite a lot, but that’s because it takes a heavy body. I also want to have a breast reduction, and then you have to be of normal weight. That is my biggest motivation.

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