“Weight Loss Miracle Drug” Semaglutide Faces Misuse in China, Leading to Emergency Hospitalizations Due to Dehydration

Recently, the movie “Spicy Hot in Love,” directed by Jia Ling, became a hit, and losing 100 pounds became a trending topic. Among many discussions, “the weight loss miracle drug” semaglutide once again entered the public eye. Compared to other weight loss methods and drugs, it is easily accessible, relatively safe, and highly effective. However, precisely because of these characteristics, it has encountered a series of problems, such as misuse and lack of awareness of drug side effects.

Behind the reality of semaglutide misuse, there are individual dilemmas: social aesthetics and concepts discipline each specific person; there is also a larger crisis: obesity has become a social and global issue that we cannot avoid.


Before the thin needle touched her abdomen, Du Xiaoyue rotated the syringe plunger 19 times. According to the instructions, this meant that the injection dose was 0.25mg.

Hoping to lose 2 pounds after a week, and then another 2 pounds after another 19 rotations, Du Xiaoyue planned to inject herself 16 times over three months. Following the advice on Xiaohongshu, she aimed to drop from 110 pounds to 90 pounds. For her height of 167cm, that was the “near perfect weight” she envisioned.

The substance injected into Du Xiaoyue’s body was semaglutide, a weight-loss injectable. A 3ml syringe containing 4mg of semaglutide, with 0.25mg being the smallest dose used. 37, 56, 74… the more rotations, the larger the dose. In 2022, Elon Musk’s “endorsement” made semaglutide the most widely discussed star product. Rather than its somewhat difficult-to-remember official name, it was more commonly referred to as the “weight loss miracle drug.”

The “miracle drug” nickname stems from its many remarkable qualities.

Firstly, compared to dieting and exercising, semaglutide does not test one’s willpower even in the slightest. It is a GLP-1 receptor agonist—GLP-1 stands for Glucagon-Like Peptide-1, a substance normally secreted by the intestines after eating, lowering blood sugar and creating a feeling of fullness. However, its lifespan is very short, only about 2 minutes. Semaglutide is a modified form of GLP-1, with a structure altered to extend its lifespan to several days. After injection, it maintains a feeling of fullness for a long time, naturally reducing food intake.

Its effectiveness is particularly notable. Du Xiaoyue saw on Xiaohongshu that some people felt their pants loosen after just one injection and needed a belt; others lost 35 pounds over 5 months after using five injections.