Nearly 1 in 10 teenagers around the world are resorting to risky, unregulated weight-loss products like diet pills, laxatives, and even supplements touted as “nature’s Ozempic.” These readily available yet harmful options, often promoted on platforms like TikTok, are filling a gap left by the limited access teens face to safer, doctor-prescribed alternatives like Ozempic. Unfortunately, this gap extends beyond medication; specialized medical weight management programs often have long waitlists, leaving teens vulnerable to the immediate (heart risks) and long-term (eating disorders, low self-esteem) dangers of these unregulated products. To protect our youth, we need stricter regulations on these products, particularly for minors, similar to New York’s recent ban on sales to that age group. Expanding access to evidence-based medical treatment options and conducting further research on youth use in various regions are crucial steps to combat this trend. Ultimately, addressing the lack of safe, accessible alternatives is critical to preventing teens from turning to these harmful weight-loss methods and safeguarding their health.
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[Source: STAT, January 10th, 2023]