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Is it ever OK to ask if someone’s on Ozempic? Here’s what experts say about questions regarding weight loss drugs.

With the rise in popularity of weight loss drugs such as Ozempic, discussions about weight loss are once again ramping up. But while some people are open about using medication to slim down — or slimming down as a result of using medication to treat a condition such as type 2 diabetes — others consider commenting on or speculating about someone else’s body to still be taboo.

Barbra Streisand recently found that out the hard way when she asked Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy in an Instagram comment if she had been taking Ozempic. Commenters called Streisand’s question “rude,” though McCarthy herself later called it a “win” because it meant that the singer and actress thought she looked good. And in June, actress Ashley Benson called out online speculation that she’d used Ozempic after giving birth months before.

In the new weight loss environment, it can be hard to know how to balance natural curiosity with good manners. Here’s what experts — and people whose bodies have changed due to using weight loss drugs — have to say.

Kristi Hedrick says she “was always taught to respect an individual’s privacy, and if you notice someone has lost weight, just be happy for them and congratulate them.” But when Hedrick lost 90 pounds after using the medications Ozempic, Mounjaro and Trulicity as a treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), people started asking questions about how she lost so much weight. It “has taken a bit of getting used to,” she tells Yahoo Life, though she adds that she never feels offended when people inquire about her weight loss. That said, Hedrick says she’s “certainly not as open with” people she doesn’t know well.

When Dustin Gee lost 55 pounds in six months using Wegovy and following the Mayo Clinic diet, he started getting questions like “You’ve lost weight, right?” and “What’s been your secret?” Gee says he doesn’t mind it. “It keeps me motivated and makes me feel accomplished and happy,” he tells Yahoo Life. “It means my progress is visible, and that has been a big boost to my confidence.” Most people, he adds, “approach the topic with empathy, avoid assumptions, express a genuine concern” and “lead with positive intent.”

Similarly, Katy Schuman Clemens, who has used Ozempic and Mounjaro, says that she “feels supported” when people ask her about her 80-pound weight loss and welcomes the opportunity to share how the medication worked for her whereas diet and exercise did not. “They’re usually asking for themselves because so many of us are obese and have some health problems,” she tells Yahoo Life. Clemens says she used to think she was “getting fatter because of personal failings,” but since starting weight loss drugs, she now “thinks of it much more as a health issue that I’m having treated,” and therefore it’s no longer something she feels ashamed about.

Nevertheless, Clemens doesn’t think it’s always appropriate to ask someone about their weight loss. “It depends on your relationship,” she says. One of her good friends, for instance, recently lost a significant amount of weight due to a serious illness. Sometimes losing weight is a “very, very bad thing, so you shouldn’t assume anything about anyone else’s weight loss,” Clemens notes.

Clemens appreciates when those who are curious let her lead the conversion by asking open-ended questions that leave the ball in her court. For example, Clemens prefers when someone opens the conversation by telling her she looks great or asking how she’s been doing without commenting on her weight. She is then free to share as much or as little information as she likes, she says.

Dr. Andres Acosta, assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and a co-founder of the weight loss testing program Phenomix, tells Yahoo Life he’s seen a recent change in attitude toward obesity and weight loss. “The increased awareness of obesity as a disease has allowed for the condition to be taken seriously, taking away a lot of the shame around it,” Acosta says. “With new drugs and research, the stigma of obesity being a moral failing and lack of willpower has significantly declined, and the public has a better understanding of the complexity of the condition.” As a result, more people are open to discussing weight loss, and more people feel comfortable asking questions.

As a provider, Ascota thinks this is a good thing. Patients are more open to discussing what they have tried in the past, and this allows him to tailor weight loss plans to his patient’s needs. However, that doesn’t mean everyone on the street should start asking questions.

“Ozempic and other weight loss drugs have opened up a communication can of worms in terms of etiquette,” etiquette expert Lisa Mirza Grotts tells Yahoo Life. Asking about weight and the use of weight loss drugs “falls into a category of highly personal and potentially invasive questions,” adds etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore. Grotts agrees. In her opinion, asking someone whether they are on Ozempic “crosses the line of good behavior.”

However, that doesn’t mean it’s always rude to compliment someone who has lost weight. Grotts says it’s OK to keep things positive and say, “You look terrific,” which opens up the discussion and allows the person who has lost weight to elaborate or end the discussion there.

After raising a “gentle prompt for conversation,” pay attention to whether the person “chooses to engage,” advises Rachel Goldberg, a therapist and founder of Rachel Goldberg Therapy. “If they respond with a noncommittal ‘Oh, OK’ without further discussion, it’s best to respect their boundaries and not press further,” she says.

Goldberg recommends never asking directly about weight loss medications unless the person who has taken them raises the topic first. “This could be interpreted as suggesting they couldn’t achieve weight loss without assistance. Additionally, they may be taking medication for a health-related condition, and probing could lead to disclosure they hadn’t intended to make,” she explains.

If you aren’t sure what to say, it’s better to err on the side of caution. “Even though your intention may be innocent curiosity,” questions about weight loss could inadvertently make someone uncomfortable, Goldberg adds.

This article was originally published on May 10, 2024 and has been updated.


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