A recent study commissioned by The New York Times shows that medications like Ozempic and Wegovy, which have proven to be effective for weight loss, are being taken by a higher concentration of people on the Upper East Side than any other neighborhood in New York City. The UES has one of the lowest rates of diabetes and obesity – the ailments these medications are meant to combat – in NYC.
“The running game show of the 10021 ZIP code is guessing who is on Vitamin O,” Jill Kargman, an UES resident, told The New York Times in reference to Ozempic.
The study found that 2.3 percent of the UES population is taking the medications, which is nearly double the rate in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood, where diabetes and obesity are far more prevalent.
Medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro – also known as semiglutides – can accelerate weight loss by slowing the emptying of the stomach and suppressing appetites. The study, which was performed by Trilliant Health, found that of the prescriptions written for semiglutides, a higher percentage went to diabetes patients in lower income parts of the city – whereas in the city’s wealthier areas, such as the east side of Manhattan, less than a third of those prescriptions went to people with a history of diabetes.
As the popularity of semiglutides grows, so too do the lengths people are willing to go to get them. A recent NY Post article noted the “shady” and “unethical” measures some are resorting to in an effort to access the medications, which can cost more than $1,000 for a month’s supply if not covered by insurance.
“You see people and they lost 30 pounds and have this face that is smaller,” an anonymous 40-year-old UES mom told the NY Post. This particularl Upper East Sider was able to get an off-brand semiglutide from a local clinic after her primary care doctor refused to write her a prescription for Ozempic.
“It’s super shady,” she told the Post. “I thought it was just too easy, but then I Googled him and he’s a real doctor, and apparently he’s also a cannabis doctor.”
The effectiveness and popularity of semiglutides, particularly in wealthy areas like Manhattan, has led to shortages, according to a Business Insider article from April that quoted Dr. David Shafer, a well-known Manhattan plastic surgeon with celebrity clients.
“Any celebrity you’ve heard of, they’re probably on it,” Shafer told Insider. “Most of the people who come into my office, if they’re asking for it, they’re not on it yet. But if they’re not asking for it, they’re probably taking it. It’s a very, very popular treatment.”