Is it wise to follow celebrity weight-loss journeys?

Is it wise to follow celebrity weight-loss journeys?

Searches for “semaglutide weight loss” are on the rise globally as scores of people try to find new ways to slim down. But are “quick fixes” the answer? The latest episode of ‘The Carol Ofori Podcast’ delves into the topic…

Oprah Winfrey, Kelly Clarkson, Adele weight loss
Oprah Winfrey, Kelly Clarkson, Adele / Instagram (@oprah, @kellyclarkson, @adele)

The body transformations of stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Kelly Clarkson, Mindy Kaling, and Adele have sparked new interest in celebrity weight loss.

Extreme weight-loss and fad diets are not new to the entertainment industry, however, there has been a major shift in recent years that has many turning to semaglutide – an active ingredient used in medication prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes.

East Coast Radio presenter Carol Ofori discusses the new weight loss craze that is taking over the world in the latest episode of the ‘The Carol Ofori Podcast’.

According to, “semaglutide is a GLP-1 agonist that works by increasing insulin release, lowering the amount of glucagon released, delaying gastric emptying, and reducing appetite.”

Despite semaglutide being a prescription drug, several stars – who are not diabetic – have been accused of taking them, sparking fears that people who need the medication won’t be able to access it.

Comedian and actress Chelsea Handler caused a stir in 2023 when she revealed that her “anti-aging doctor just hands it out to anybody”.

She said she had no idea that the "semaglutide" injection she was on was meant for people with diabetes.  

The off-label use of the drug is reportedly common in Hollywood, but very few people will admit it.

Oprah Winfrey recently revealed that she uses weight-loss medication coupled with hiking and a healthy diet to maintain her weight. She did not specify which drug she was using.

Kelly Clarkson credited a healthy lifestyle for her drastic weight loss. “I eat a healthy mix. I dropped weight because I’ve been listening to my doctor — a couple years I didn’t,” she told People magazine in January.

Mindy Kaling reportedly enjoys hiking or running and spends “so much time and energy trying to be healthy”.  Adele told Vogue magazine she works out two or three times a day.

ALSO READ: Adele shocks fans with incredible weight-loss in new birthday pic

Weight loss ‘quick fixes’: Are they worth it?
East Coast Radio Podcasts

Speaking to Ofori, Dr Sundeep Ruder – an endocrinologist with extensive knowledge in weight management - says looking to celebrities for weight loss inspiration is not always a good idea.  

“What we hear from celebrity personalities in the media should always be taken with a bit of speculation and independent critical thinking. These are people at a level of wealth and access that they can do whatever they please with their bodies.”

Oprah’s weight loss journey, for example, has been under scrutiny throughout her career.  

“Her weight loss journey has been quite a lot of up and down. And previously, even when she's lost weight, there's been a lot of hype around her weight loss, and then people want to follow those methods. I'm not saying it's wrong or right or criticising the individual personality, but I think things like that should be taken with a grain of salt. You should do your independent investigation,” he said.


While semaglutide has been used in diabetics medication for several years now, it has also been approved for use in certain weight loss medications.

There are currently only two GLP-1s approved for people who don’t have diabetes but need assistance with weight management - semaglutide (Wegovy) and Liraglutide (Saxenda).

They are registered specifically for weight loss and are available for adults who suffer from obesity or have excess weight issues.

Dr Ruder says just like we have cholesterol medication for people who have high cholesterol, there are approved medically trialled prescription medications that can be used to treat obesity.

“So, if a patient has a body mass index over 27, plus some weight-related complications, or just a body mass index over 30, then liraglutide 3 milligrams, the higher dose GLP, can be used for weight loss. It is available in this country and is approved for weight loss.”

He explains how some people started turning to the semaglutide drug meant for diabetes during the recent Hollywood weight loss craze.

“A problem came in when the semaglutide (weight loss version) became popular on social media and they ran short of it in Western countries. People started using the diabetic lower-dose version of it for weight loss. And we don't want to talk about off label use, but a lot of it was not in the obesity field, it was just for weight loss. And the indiscriminate use ultimately led to, or contributed, I can't say it was the only cause, of a shortage of that drug.”

Dr Ruder adds that GLP drugs approved for weight loss can help patients who are on an otherwise good diet and exercise program, and for psychological behavioural support.

“They're a good add on to assist patients to get to their weight goal and then try and maintain it in the long term,” he told The Carol Ofori Podcast.

Dr Ruder says weight loss is not a one-size-fits-all situation. 

“There are other classes of weight loss drugs as well that work more centrally. They're non-hormonal. And they work on the brain in addressing cravings. There's another one that works on fat absorption in the stomach. So every doctor needs to tailor the medication according to the individual in front of them, based on the individual state, the patient's desires, accessibility, and then benefits versus risks and costs and all of that stuff and clinical criteria as well.”

Listen to ‘The Carol Ofori Podcast’ below. It also features the stories of two people who have direct experience with using this drug for weight loss:

Read more FAQs on semaglutide on the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) website.

Disclaimer: Health-related information provided in this article is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat health problems. It is always advisable to consult with your doctor on any health-related issues.

Main image credit: Instagram/@oprah, @kellyclarkson, @adele

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