A new TikTok trend that promotes the use of laxatives as a cheap and easy way to lose weight has caused a nationwide shortage of some over-the-counter products and raised serious health warnings from experts.
The trend, dubbed ‘Budget Ozempic’, involves taking laxatives such as Miralax, Ex-Lax, and Glycolax, which are normally used to treat constipation and other digestive issues. Some TikTok users claim that these products can help them shed pounds quickly and cheaply, as an alternative to the prescription medication Ozempic.
Ozempic is a brand name for semaglutide, a drug that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. It works by mimicking a hormone called GLP-1, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and appetite. Ozempic can help people lose weight by reducing their hunger and making them feel full faster.
However, Ozempic is not a magic pill for weight loss. It requires a doctor’s prescription and close monitoring of blood sugar levels and other health indicators. It can also cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and low blood sugar. Moreover, it is quite expensive, costing around $800 per month without insurance.
Some TikTok users have found a way to circumvent these barriers by using laxatives instead of Ozempic. They claim that these products can produce similar effects by flushing out the contents of their intestines and reducing their water weight. They also refer to them as ‘polyethylene glycol 3350’, or PEG 3350, which is the active ingredient in Miralax and Glycolax.
How did the trend start and spread?
The trend seems to have originated from a TikTok user named @jessicaaamayy, who posted a video in July 2023 showing her weight loss transformation after using PEG 3350 for two weeks. She claimed that she lost 15 pounds in that period and that she felt “amazing”. She also said that she got the idea from another TikTok user named @kaylajeanne_, who had previously posted a video praising PEG 3350 as a “miracle” product.
The video by @jessicaaamayy went viral, garnering over 4 million views and thousands of comments. Many users expressed interest in trying PEG 3350 for themselves, while others shared their own experiences with the product. Some users also posted videos showing how they mixed PEG 3350 with various drinks and foods, such as smoothies, coffee, oatmeal, and yogurt.
The trend soon spread to other social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit, where users shared their results and tips on using PEG 3350 for weight loss. The hashtag #GutTok also became popular, with over 1.1 billion views on TikTok alone.
What are the consequences of the trend?
The surge in demand for PEG 3350 products has led to a nationwide shortage of some brands, such as Miralax and Glycolax. Many pharmacies and online retailers have reported running out of stock or having limited supplies of these products. Some users have resorted to buying them in bulk or from third-party sellers at inflated prices.
However, the bigger concern is the potential health risks of using laxatives for weight loss. Experts have warned that this practice is not only ineffective but also dangerous.
According to Dr. Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington DC, any weight loss from using laxatives is temporary and illusory. He explained that laxatives do not affect the calories or fat that are absorbed by the body, but only remove water and waste from the intestines.
He said that this can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, kidney damage, heart problems, and even death in extreme cases. He also said that laxative abuse can cause chronic constipation, bowel obstruction, intestinal inflammation, and dependence on the products.
Dr. Kahan urged people to stop following the ‘Budget Ozempic’ trend and seek professional help if they have eating disorders or other mental health issues that may drive them to use laxatives for weight loss.
He also advised people to consult their doctors before taking any medication for weight loss, including Ozempic. He said that there are safer and more effective ways to lose weight, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, and getting enough sleep.