Private Schoolers Want Ozempic

Rising Use Among Students

Dr. Allie Melendez has been conducting sex education and wellness workshops at many of Los Angeles’ most elite independent schools. During these sessions, she discovered a disturbing trend: a significant number of high school seniors are using weight-loss drugs like Ozempic.

Disturbing Discoveries

Over the last academic year, Dr. Melendez held workshops at various schools and noticed a growing issue. “I have a slide in one of my presentations that shows the logo for Ozempic and I ask the students, what do you know about this?” she explains. When she asks students to raise their thumbs if they have considered, are currently using, or are in the process of getting access to Ozempic, more than a third of the seniors raised their thumbs.

Widespread Use

If this had happened at just one school, Melendez might have considered it an anomaly. However, she encountered similar results across seven top private academies in L.A., which deeply disturbed her. Despite her internal anguish, she maintained a calm exterior, thanking the students for sharing.

Personal Experience and Professional Insight

As a graduate of UCLA Lab School and Windward High School, Melendez understands the pressures students face in elite Westside schools. Her firsthand experience with peers suffering from eating disorders inspired her to pursue a career in education and human sexuality.

Growing Trend Among Youth

Early data aligns with Melendez’s observations. A University of Michigan report noted a significant increase in the number of individuals aged 12 to 25 receiving prescriptions for diabetes or weight-loss drugs, growing from 8,722 to 60,567 per month between 2020 and 2023. This represents an almost 600 percent increase, predominantly among females.

Pressure and Mixed Messaging

The pairing of injectable weight-loss drugs with teenagers in a body-conscious city like L.A. has potential for undesirable outcomes. Appearance pressures start early, with beauty products and gift cards being common birthday presents for young girls. Celebrity culture and media messaging only amplify these pressures.

Cultural Impact and Concerns

Celebrity use of semaglutides is openly discussed in L.A., with everyone from restaurant owners to personal trainers feeling the impact. With sex education curriculums promoting body positivity, there is a risk of mixed messaging influencing vulnerable minds.

Widespread Marketing and Influence

Dr. Melendez, who grew up in Cheviot Hills and is the daughter of advertising executives, understands the power of persuasion. She has noticed aggressive marketing of anti-obesity medications on social media and in popular media, such as Family Guy and South Park.

Social Media Influence

On social media, Ozempic and other GLP-1 drugs are ubiquitous. TikTok, for example, has over 91,500 videos with the hashtag #Ozempic, garnering millions of views, likes, and comments.

The High-Achieving Environment

For students at elite schools, the allure of drugs like Ozempic is understandable. High-achieving students often face higher rates of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. The demand for these drugs has surged, making it difficult for diabetics to access them.

The L.A. Context

California ranks low in the number of GLP-1 prescriptions per capita, but wealthier neighborhoods in L.A. likely mirror high consumption areas like New York’s Upper East Side.

Psychological Risks

Christina King, a Manhattan Beach-based psychotherapist, notes that high-achieving schools amplify pressures, potentially leading to more students using these drugs. While she hasn’t yet seen a surge in her practice, she predicts that could change soon.

Long-Term Implications

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently included anti-obesity medication in its guidelines for treating childhood obesity. However, the long-term effects of these drugs on teenagers remain unclear, with concerns about growth, development, and potential abuse.

A Call for Awareness

Melendez is cautious about sharing details with school therapists due to privacy concerns but believes it’s crucial to raise awareness. “What I was trying to do is to have kids think critically about problems that plague our society today like the use of Ozempic,” she says.

Final Thoughts

Melendez is going public now because, “We just don’t know what the long-term side effects of all this is.”