I’m Taking Ozempic. Here’s What I’m Telling My Kids.

Semaglutide and weight-loss conversations with kids can be tricky, but experts have tips.

“What are those needles in the fridge?” my 11-year-old, Nell, asked, peering at the boxed Ozempic medication that I had not-so-discreetly placed on the top shelf of our refrigerator.

“Oh, they’re Mommy’s new medicine,” I said nonchalantly, frantically trying to figure out how I would approach the fact that I’m taking a somewhat controversial weight loss medication with my preteen daughter.

That night I knocked on Nell’s bedroom door while she was getting ready for bed. I asked if she wanted to chat about the medication she had found. We ended up snuggled in her bed while I explained that my doctor had recommended that I take the medication because it would help me balance my blood sugar.

“I’m healthy, but the medication will help me be even healthier,” I explained. At this point, Nell didn’t know what Ozempic was, and she hadn’t seen any videos online or heard about celebrities using the drug. We focused on my desire to grow stronger and healthier, and I explained that one of the side effects is that my body could change.

“I love my body now, and I’ll love my body if it changes,” I explained. With my 9-year-old, I had a similar conversation. We agreed to keep the line of communication open, and over the next few months we did. Sometimes I was extra tired, and I’d explain that was one of the side effects of my medication. When we saw a commercial on TV for Ozempic, we talked about the messaging of the commercial and why the media was talking about the drug more and more.

“Not everything the media says is true,” I explained, which led to a deeper analysis of media literacy.

“We learned about this at school,” Nell added.

After six months, I decided to go off of Ozempic for a variety of reasons: my insurance wouldn’t cover it, and the side effects were impacting my quality of life. My kids didn’t ask, so I didn’t mention that I’d stopped taking it until they randomly noticed the medication had disappeared from the fridge.

How to approach semaglutide and weight-loss conversations with kids.

Nicole Roder, a board-certified therapist in Columbia, Maryland, has personal and professional experience in navigating these types of tough conversations with your kids: Roder was also prescribed a semaglutide in the past. “I try not to tell parents what they should or shouldn’t do. That being said, I do think it’s appropriate to tell your kids if you’re taking a semaglutide like Ozempic,” Roder told HuffPost.

Roder recommends having an age-appropriate conversation with your children. For older children who have been exposed to different media about Ozempic, it’s best to keep the communication lines open.

“The best way to balance these perspectives is to foster open dialogue so you can know what they’ve heard and provide corrective information if necessary…. I recommend letting them ask questions…. That goes for any touchy subject, not just weight loss drugs,” Roder said. She added that you can also ask open-ended questions, like “What have you heard about this medication?”

Roder said that she kept an open conversation with her own children while she was taking a semaglutide and that she explained the medication was prescribed to help improve her health. Her children mainly wanted to know if the needle hurt.

“It’s best to keep this conversation about health and not body image,” said Roder. “Talk about your health reasons for taking the drug and the health benefits you hope to gain.”

She added that it’s important to prioritize a healthy outlook on body image with your children. Never make disparaging comments about your body, and focus on positive comments, like your strong arms or the fact that your stretch marks are a reminder of the joy of bringing your kids into the world, she said.

Illustration:Jianan Liu/HuffPost; Photo:Getty Images

Semaglutide and weight-loss conversations with kids can be tricky, but experts have tips.

Samantha DeCaro, a psychologist and the director of clinical outreach and education at The Renfrew Center, has a different opinion on the subject.

“Parents shouldn’t discuss any method or strategy they’re using to intentionally pursue weight loss, including dieting or using weight loss products,” DeCaro said. She added that talking to your children about your medication usage can increase the risk of them internalizing harmful beliefs about body image.

If your child notices that your body is changing, DeCaro says you should “validate what the child is observing but do so in a completely neutral way. Remind your child that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and we can’t tell how someone is feeling or how healthy they are by looking at them.”

Los Angeles-based therapist Torri Efron Pelton says that choosing to talk to your children about your weight loss medication is a personal choice that will depend on each child.

“I encourage parents to take a holistic health approach and not focus on the weight loss but rather the health goals and benefits,” she said.

“The first step is for the parent to really understand their own motives and goals for taking [the weight loss medication] and what values they want to pass on to their children,” Efron Pelton said. “If your child is not asking questions or is not curious, the best way to go about it would be to talk to your children the same way you would about any other medicine or medical condition.”

If you decide to tell your kids about your semaglutide use, here’s where to begin.

Efron Pelton recommended the following phrases and questions to guide the conversation:

  • “My body and health have been changing, have you noticed?”
  • “Weight loss is a side effect of the changes I have made. Here are some cool things about my health improvements and how they will make my life and yours better…”
  • “I am working on my health with my doctors and might lose some weight, but in the end, health is what matters regardless of weight.”

What to do if your kid comments on your changing body.

DeCaro suggested responding with these phrases if your child notices and comments on your weight loss:

  • “Sometimes bodies change. Sometimes they get bigger, sometimes they get smaller and sometimes they stay the same, but we can’t tell much about a person’s health or well-being by looking at their body size.”
  • “Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and our bodies will change throughout our lives. Our genetics play a big role in how our body looks now and how it will look in the future.”
  • “No matter what size or shape you are or how your body changes, you will always be loved and you are worthy.”

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