As TikTok tightens its policies related to disordered eating, it is cracking down on a popular weight-loss solution. Several creators have noted that the app has removed videos that promote drugs like Ozempic and Mounjaro, which are approved for use by people with type 2 diabetes.
Though semaglutides like Ozempic and tirzepatides like Mounjaro are not approved for people with obesity, they have been widely used as weight-loss solutions. According to data from Morgan Stanley, the global obesity market will reach $77 billion by 2030. Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk is projected to take in $12.5 billion from sales of Ozempic in 2023 alone.
The explosive growth of Ozempic has been fueled by influencers who take it as part of their personal weight-loss routines. Celebs like Elon Musk have admitted to using semaglutides, and those drugs are frequent topics on social media as well. The #ozempic tag has received more than 1.2 billion views on TikTok alone.
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In July, however, some of the videos discussing Ozempic have been taken down. In a defiant clip, the creator behind the channel BourbonRX responded to TikTok’s moderation by stating “we ain’t going nowhere.” Another creator, Jennifer Witherspoon, called out TikTok after a video she made about Mounjaro got taken down.
@mommajenzhere Sensorship at its finest!#sensorshipsucks #freespeech #community #speakup #fyp ♬ original sound – MommaJenzhere
Though creators like Witherspoon have shared indignant reactions to TikTok’s enhanced moderation, weight-loss experts are concerned about the effects diabetes drugs can have on people with eating disorders. TikTok has joined platforms like YouTube by taking a hard line on content that promotes dangerous “imitable behaviors” related to weight management. The ByteDance-owned app recently made a donation to the Alliance for Eating Disorders as part of its activity during Mental Health Awareness Month.
A TikTok spokesperson told Bloomberg that weight-loss content — including videos about semaglutides and obesity — are permitted as long as they do not violate the app’s policies on disordered eating or drugs. Witherspoon told TikTok that some of her content related to Mounjaro was taken down because it ran afoul of the app’s community guidelines. “I got on this platform to log my journey and help other people,” Witherspoon said in her video, “but the simplest of s**t we can’t even say.”