Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight-Loss Drugs

Crown. May 2024. 320p. ISBN 9780593728635. $30. HEALTH
Journalist Hari’s (Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—and How To Think Deeply Again) approach to analyzing concerns about weight and weight-loss drugs in the United States is far more nuanced than popular perspectives from dieticians, fitness experts, and others directly working in spaces focused on obesity, disordered eating, and pharmaceuticals. He analyzes the ways in which the risks may or may not outweigh the benefits of weight loss drugs from a medical perspective, while remaining astutely aware of his own relationship to his body before and after using Ozempic. He discusses the effects of obesity on physical and psychological health and the tendency in cultural discourse to avoid speaking frankly about diets, use of weight-loss drugs, and, critically, access to these drugs, even as the use of Ozempic and its like is in evidence, particularly among celebrities. Critically, Hari also interrogates socially received notions of willpower, discipline, and shame and the United States’ dysfunctional relationship with food.
VERDICT This is not a simple book about weight loss. Instead, Hari explores obesity-related medical concerns and the risks of drugs such as Ozempic, all the while peppering the book with anecdotes designed to remind readers that the choices they make about weight loss often have far less to do with the number on the scale than they do with the stories they have been told about their bodies.
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