Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are taking drugs like Ozempic to lose weight. But what do we actually know about them? This month, we’re exploring their rise, impact and potential consequences.

To kick off our series, Sebastian Furness charts how these drugs were developed including, at one stage, mimicking hormones from a venomous lizard.

As Furness explains, these drugs work by telling your brain you’re full. (And we’ve created a handy infographic that shows what happens in your body when you take them.)

Meanwhile, Lauren Ball and Emily Burch outline what the evidence says are the potential benefits and risks of taking drugs like Ozempic for weight loss, from gastrointestinal discomfort to reports of more serious mental health concerns.

Later in the week, we’ll look at how Australians are accessing Ozempic for weight loss when it’s only approved as a diabetes treatment and how the regulator is cracking down on ‘copycat’ Ozempic.

Fron Jackson-Webb

Deputy Editor and Senior Health Editor

The rise of Ozempic: how surprise discoveries and lizard venom led to a new class of weight-loss drugs

Sebastian Furness, The University of Queensland

Ozempic generated A$21 billion of sales in 2023 alone. So how was it developed? And how are its new competitors, Mounjaro and Zepbound, different?

Considering taking a weight-loss drug like Ozempic? Here are some potential risks and benefits

Lauren Ball, The University of Queensland; Emily Burch, Southern Cross University

Early on we heard a lot about the potential benefits of drugs like Ozempic. Now we’re hearing more about the risks. But what does the latest evidence say?

It’s time to give Australian courts the power to break up big firms that behave badly

Allan Fels, The University of Melbourne

US courts have had the power to break up badly behaving corporations for more than a century. There’s a bill before the Australian Senate that would give our courts the same power.

How do we solve the maths teacher shortage? We can start by training more existing teachers to teach maths

Ian Gordon, The University of Melbourne; Mary P. Coupland, University of Technology Sydney; Merrilyn Goos, University of the Sunshine Coast

Imagine if you enrolled your child in swimming lessons but instead of a qualified swimming instructor, they were taught freestyle technique by a soccer coach.

Fasting is a key part of Ramadan, but for many Muslims, climate change is making food scarce all year

Nasya Bahfen, La Trobe University

Muslims internationally fast during the day in the holy month. But largely-Islamic nations are feeling the effects of climate change, making life harder both during and outside of Ramadan.

A Palestinian bus crash that killed six kindergarteners represents an oppressive system – but a father’s story offers hope

Ned Curthoys, The University of Western Australia

Nathan Thrall’s harrowing account of an avoidable tragedy doubles as a devastating analysis of the everyday realities of occupation, in the context of Palestinian and Israeli history.

Myrtle rust is lethal to Australian plants. Could citizen scientists help track its spread?

Erin Roger, CSIRO; Alyssa Martino, University of Sydney; Rebecca Paxton, University of Adelaide

Bushwalkers with smartphones could help scientists track a fungus lethal to many of Australia’s most loved trees.

After 10 years of work, landmark study reveals new ‘tree of life’ for all birds living today

Jacqueline Nguyen, Flinders University; Simon Ho, University of Sydney

The extinction of the dinosaurs sparked an explosion of bird species, according to the largest-ever study of bird genetics.

Searing glory holes, a shapeshifting cat and outback UFO tours: what we’re streaming this April

Dennis Altman, La Trobe University; Jessica Ford, University of Adelaide; Kelly McWilliam, University of Southern Queensland; Phoebe Hart, Queensland University of Technology; Stephen Gaunson, RMIT University; Stuart Richards, University of South Australia

Our experts have a roundup featuring everything from a saucy period drama, to the latest season of Blown Away, to a Stan production that brought Superstore’s Ben Feldman down under.


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