Wegovy, Ozempic, and weight loss: Four things to know about UK consumers and semaglutide
November 24th, 2023, Christien Pheby

Wegovy, Ozempic, and weight loss: Four things to know about UK consumers and semaglutide

Semaglutide, the injectable anti-diabetic and anti-obesity medication that trades under the names Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus, is now available on the NHS to anyone with a BMI of 35 or over. The frenzy around the drug is such that manufacturer Novo Nordisk is now among Europe’s most valuable companies, and desperate Britons are buying it illegally via the online black market.  

But what do the public actually think about semaglutide? Here are four key takeaways. 

  1. Most people don’t know about semaglutide…

Firstly, when asked if they have seen or heard of the drug at all, 71% say they have not; 12% say they haven’t seen or heard very much about it; 13% say they have seen or heard a fair amount, and just 4% say they have seen or heard a lot. Suffice to say the public are not experts on the topic. 

2. …but when overweight Britons are told about the drug, two in five are interested in using it. 

When they are offered a brief explanation of how semaglutide works, a quarter (25%) of the public and two in five Britons who describe themselves as overweight (38%) say they are interested in taking it to shed some pounds. 

3. However, two-thirds of the public (64%) and half of overweight Britons (50%) say they are not interested. 

And when we asked Britons who considered themselves heavier than average which forms of weight loss they would prefer to use, drugs such as semaglutide (17%) beat out bariatric surgery (6%), liposuction (5%), and weight loss supplements (12%) – but lost to old-fashioned dieting (74%) and exercise (70%). 

4. Among Britons who are aware of semaglutide, 37% think it’s unsafe…

The listed side effects of Ozempic include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and vomiting, which may partly explain why the public aren’t convinced that semaglutide is safe. Suspicion of the unknown could also play a role, as these drugs are relatively new. Nevertheless, just 31% who are aware of semaglutide say they believe the drug is safe, and 41% consider it to be unsafe.

That said, a number of Britons say they “don’t know” if it’s safe or not. 

4. …but by 46% to 21%, they think the benefits outweigh the risks. 

If they’re not convinced of its safety, a plurality still think it does more good than harm: overall, 46% say the benefits outweigh the risks, with just 21% saying the risks outweigh the benefits. Some 13% say the benefits and risks are evenly balanced, and 20% don’t know either way.