TikTokers are criticizing ads for Ozempic, an injectable weight loss drug, seen in a subway station and on social media.
In a TikTok posted on March 28, Sara Morano (@smoranooo) shows ads for “a weekly shot to lose weight” being advertised by Roman, a healthcare company that now goes by Ro. The weekly shots that Ro is advertising are Ozempic and Wegovy, injectable semaglutide medications that cause weight loss.
Both medications were initially prescribed to treat diabetes, but Ozempic, in particular, has made headlines recently because some celebrities have been rumored to have taken the drug to lose weight.
Morano, who has over 33,000 TikTok followers, called the ads an “Ozempic New York City subway takeover.” On Thursday, her video had over 60,000 views.
@smoranooo Not only do we advertise prescription drugs in the US we paper the stairs of the train with them #ozempic #wegovy #nycsubway ♬ I been drinking – Rea
Commenters on Morano’s video expressed concern over the popularity of the drug, which has side effects including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
“I’m so afraid of us,” @rachhondacivic commented.
“It’s giving Hunger Game[s] capitol,” @hiaiss wrote. In author Suzanne Collin’s popular dystopian young adult series, rich inhabitants of the capital city drink a substance to induce vomiting so they can continue to eat more without getting full.
“They should just put all the celebrities using it,” @loveslisaxoxo commented. “The ads would be more effective.”
In an interview with the Daily Dot, Morano said that when she first saw the ads in the subway, she was surprised to see injectable weight loss drugs in a large ad campaign—and wanted to share what she saw with others.
“I wanted to have other people’s reactions because the images that they used were so jarring and powerful that I didn’t want to subconsciously absorb them when I watched when I walked by,” Morano told the Daily Dot. “We should talk about what this means.”
For Morano, the ads were “unsettling,” considering the traction that the body acceptance and positivity movements have had in recent years. Plus, she said she felt troubled by Ro’s online recommendations regarding the weight loss drugs, which include a sliding scale that allows users to see how much weight they could lose by using Ozempic or Wegovy.
“The recommendations were basically that anyone should be looking to lose 20% of their body weight,” Morano said. Ro’s Body Program advertises that those who use injectable weight loss drugs lose 15% of their body weight, on average.
“They’re using diverse models, but then the messaging is, ‘Everyone needs to be 20% smaller,” Morano said.
When the Daily Dot reached out to Ro for comment, a member of the company’s communications team directed this reporter to a blog post on its Medium account titled, “Why we’re putting ads for our Body Program on the subway,” which discusses Ro’s goals to “spotlight obesity as a chronic condition,” “demystify” injectable weight loss drugs, and “empower people to take control.”
“No one has to feel guilty or embarrassed for seeking treatment,” Ro’s blog post reads. “It’s not cheating, it’s science.” As explained by a blog post from Found, another company that offers weight loss medication, there is “stigma” around using weight loss medications because it’s viewed as taking the easy way out.
TikTokers have posted about seeing injectable weight loss drug ads from Ro on social media, as well.
In a TikTok posted on Feb. 25, Amruta Vyas (@itsmeruti) says that she saw a Ro ad on Instagram, which she shows in her video. She says when she swiped up on the ad, she was directed to the same sliding scale that asks users to input their weight to see how many pounds they could lose.
“I know people use Ozempic for valid reasons,” Vyas says in her TikTok. “But let’s be honest: These ads are not tailored towards them.”
In her video’s caption, Vyas wrote that the ad made her “sad.”
@itsmeruti #greenscreenvideo ♬ original sound – Amruta
In an interview with the Daily Dot, Vyas said that she’s angry about Ro’s ads because she finds them “generic.”
“There were no callouts on it being for obesity or diabetes,” Vyas told the Daily Dot. “It made me scared for the more impressionable people out there who might actually think this is the best option for them to cope with body image issues or eating disorders.”
Throughout their lifetime, almost 30 million Americans will experience an eating disorder, which is one of the most deadly mental illnesses, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
And like Morano, Vyas feels like Ro’s ads normalize the use of injectable weight loss drugs.
“The ads also make it seem like everybody is using it,” Vyas said. “And make me feel pressured to do the same.”