Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight Loss Drugs

Magic Pill Book Cover







The bestselling author of Lost Connections and Stolen Focus takes a revelatory look at the new drugs transforming weight loss as we know it – sharing his personal experience on Ozempic and examining our ability to heal society’s dysfunctional relationship with food, weight and our bodies.

In January 2023, Johann Hari started to inject himself once a week with Ozempic, one of the new drugs that produces significant weight loss. He wasn’t alone – some predictions suggest that in a few years, one in four of the British population will be taking these drugs. While around 80 per cent of diets fail, someone taking one of the new drugs is likely to lose up to a quarter of their body weight in six months. To the drugs’ defenders, this is a moment of liberation from a condition that massively increases your chances of diabetes, cancer and an early death.

Still, Hari was wildly conflicted. Can these drugs really be as good as they sound? Are they a magic solution – or a magical illusion? Finding the answer to this high-stakes question led him on a journey from Iceland to Minneapolis to Tokyo, and to interview the leading experts in the world on these issues. He found that along with the drug’s massive benefits come twelve significant potential risks. He also learned that these drugs radically challenge what we think we know about shame, willpower and healing.

These drugs are about to change our world, for better and for worse. Everybody needs to understand how they work – scientifically, emotionally and culturally. Magic Pill is an essential guide to the revolution that has already begun – and which one leading expert argues could be as transformative as the invention of the smartphone.


What They’re Saying About “Magic Pill”

“A brilliant synthesis of so much important information. Really important, and very necessary”


“A brilliant book by a master story-teller. It’s compassionate, wise, and mind-expanding. Whether you are excited about these drugs or sceptical of them, you will learn so much in MAGIC PILL – it is a must-read.”


“I read this book in four days, and the whole time I have been quoting chunks of it to anyone that will listen. It is a game changer – for all of us. It is balanced and shocking, vitally important and, crucially, non-judgemental. I learned so much.”


“With the intense interest in the new miracle weight-loss drugs, we need a balanced look at their promise and peril. Entertaining and highly-readable, Johann Hari’s Magic Pill delivers the information people need to help make a medical decision that might change their future.”

– ARTHUR C. BROOKS, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, and #1 New York Times bestselling author

“A deep-dive into Ozempic couldn’t be more timely—and necessary—to get the full scope of how and why everyone is suddenly skinny!”


“A fascinating exploration of weight-loss pharmaceuticals that will redefine our approach to obesity. This book is not just a personal story, but an examination of how these drugs interact with social norms and personal health, promising liberation—and new psychological dilemmas. As we stand on the brink of a medical revolution, Magic Pill is a vital guide through the complex scientific, emotional, and cultural landscape of this new frontier.”

– CHARLES DUHIGG, bestselling author of The Power of Habit and Supercommunicators

“Magic Pill may be the most revolutionary, honest, and important book you read about weight loss, the body and food. As is always the case with a Johann Hari book, what appears to be a story about the drug, Ozempic, turns out to be a portal into the deepest investigation and revelation on how to live a healthy life.”

– V (formerly Eve Ensler), The Vagina Monologues, Reckoning

“In Magic Pill, Johann Hari gives us a crash course on the new weight loss drugs that will soon be transforming bodies, minds, and societies on a massive scale. I had no idea of the power of these drugs, or of the complex web of risks and benefits, until Hari laid it all out with his wonderful technique of saying “come on a journey with me as I take these drugs myself while talking with scientists and colorful characters all over the world!” Magic Pill will help you think more clearly about eating, dieting, health, and mental health, even if you never touch Ozempic.”

– PROFESSOR JONATHAN HAIDT, author of The Anxious Generation

“A fast paced and fascinating dive into an extremely sensitive topic, written by a charismatic and compulsively readable author.”

– DAN HARRIS, host of Ten Percent Happier

“In Magic Pill, Johann Hari marshals his trademark talents and keen insight to dissect yet another of our dysfunctional culture’s troubling features: the obesity epidemic of the past few decades and its treatments. Entertaining without trivializing and deeply informative, this book leaves us with much to ponder, both on the individual and social levels.”

– GABOR MATÉ MD, bestselling author of The Myth of Normal

“Compelling, thoughtful and fascinating, a revealing and inspiring meditation on weight loss, addiction, and the new drugs that may change the way we think about and treat obesity.”

– MAIA SZALAVITZ, author of Unbroken Brain

“Johann Hari has made a trip around the world to explore our latest health trend: the enormously successful new weight loss drugs. Having been seriously overweight himself, Hari takes Ozempic; he lost weight and gained perspective on the important questions: How did we end up with a food system so dysfunctional that we need to engage in a program of mass drugging to protect us from it?  What are the long term effects, especially on children? Will the vast need for these drugs — so many millions worldwide are in poor health, or will be, because of their weight — jolt us into a concerted movement to address the underlying factors that got us here? Hari’s masterful storytelling makes his own experience and the short life of this exciting, yet incomplete, pharmaco-cultural experiment come alive.”

– SALLY SATEL MD, Yale University School of Medicine