Johann Hari, MAGIC PILL

Johann Hari, MAGIC PILL

Journalist and bestselling author Johann Hari chats with Zibby about MAGIC PILL, a fascinating and timely examination of the new drugs transforming weight loss—from his personal experience on Ozempic to our society’s dysfunctional relationship with food. Johann, who has a family history of heart disease linked to obesity, provides a comprehensive and nuanced explanation of the risks and benefits of weight-loss drugs. He and Zibby share their firsthand experiences with them, and then Johann delves into the broader societal factors contributing to the obesity epidemic.


Zibby: Welcome Johann. Thank you so much for coming on. Moms don't have time to read books to discuss magic pill, the extraordinary benefits and disturbing risks of the new weight loss drugs.

Congratulations on your book. 

Johann: Oh, thank you so much. I'm really excited to be with you. 

Zibby: I feel like the subtitle should have been something like one man's journey through multiple countries and through, you know, you know what I mean? Like there's, there's so much first person reporting that goes on. And your own emotions and all that as opposed to like a strict factual thing about weight loss drugs.

Johann: Yeah. It was very personal to me. I remember the first time I learned that we now have drugs that cause just staggering amounts of weight loss. You know, the average person who takes a Zempic Wigovi loses 15 percent of their body weight. The average person who takes Menjaro loses 21 percent of their body weight within a year.

And I remember just a very personal level. Feeling really intensely two very contradictory things. The first thing I thought was, well, this could save my life. I'm older than my grandfather ever got to be. He died of a heart attack when he was 44. Loads of the men in my family. Have heart problems because they're fat, right?

My dad had terrible heart problems. My uncle died of them. I was 44 when I learned about the existence of these drugs. 43, I must've been, and I was obese and I have been for most of my adult life. And I knew that sadly, obesity makes heart disease and actually. 200 known diseases and complications much more likely.

So I thought, wow, if there is a drug that can reverse obesity, that's going to be a big deal for me and a lot of other people. But I also thought, wait a minute, we've seen this story before, right? About once every 20 years, a new miracle weight loss drug is announced. We're told it's going to save us all.

We stampede to take it. They always discover it has some horrendous side effect. That means it has to be pulled from the market, leaving a trail of broken people in its wake. I was worried about what it meant for people with eating disorders, people for the progress we've made with body positivity. I just, I felt such a mixture of things.

I thought, I just, can there really be such a thing as a free lunch when it comes to something as complicated as this? Although I guess with a Zempik it would be a smaller free lunch. And so to understand this, I used my training in the social sciences at Cambridge university to go on a big journey all over the world.

I took the drug myself, a Zempik in my case. And like you say, I went on this big journey all over the world, from Iceland, to Minneapolis, to Okinawa in the south of Japan, to interview the leading experts on these drugs, the biggest defenders of the drugs, the people who pioneered them, the biggest critics of these drugs, and people who just are thinking about how this is going to profoundly change our lives in all sorts of complicated ways.

Zibby: So you mentioned just to start right off with side effects because, you know, there are some and you talk about sort of the 10 biggest risks and then at the end you sort of share a couple more still with all of the side effects, like perhaps an increase in thyroid cancer, but that's a small risk to begin with, right?

And some other side effects. Yeah. Yeah. It feels like the risks are still relatively low as far as we know. Of course, we don't know what's going to happen in the long run, right? And so the, the downsides are still far smaller than the upsides, right? 

Johann: Oh, no, I wouldn't put it that way. I think we've got to weigh very carefully here, two sets of risks.

There's the risks of being obese. And then there's the risk of these drugs, right? And I'm slightly embarrassed to say, the thing that, of all the things I learned in the research for my book Magic Pill, the thing that most shocked me was just how bad for you obesity is, on average. I know that sounds dumb because I guess since I was five years old, if he said to me, you know, I was being obese, bad for your health, I would have said yes.

I mean, I was amazed by how, basically, This scientific, and I wish this wasn't true, I desperately wish this wasn't true, but obesity makes literally, almost literally everything we fear more likely. Heart attack, stroke, dementia, cancer, by really quite significant amounts. Even the, even the stuff that, so think about diabetes, right?

I'm very embarrassed to say. If you'd asked me two years ago, before I started researching this book, about, about diabetes, I would have said, you know, Okay, I know that obesity makes it much more likely you'll get diabetes. In fact, if you're obese when you're 18, you have a 70 percent chance of becoming diabetic in your life.

But I think I thought, okay, that's not good, but as long as you've got health insurance, And you get insulin, you're basically okay, right? Diabetic plus insulin is like me, right? That's not the case at all. Diabetes knocks 15 years off your life on average. Diabetes is the biggest preventable cause of blindness in the United States.

More people in the US have to have a limb or extremity amputated because of diabetes than because they had got shot. And you will have noticed a lot of us get shot. In fact, diabetes is so bad for you. I'm talking about type 2 diabetes here. That was the one that's connected to obesity. that a leading doctor in Britain, Dr.

Max Pemberton, who treats diabetics, said to me something that sounds incredibly shocking when you first hear it, but when you look at the evidence you understand why. He said, if you gave me a choice between becoming HIV positive or becoming diabetic, I would choose to become HIV positive, because if you're HIV positive and you get treatment and you live as long as everyone else, that is not true of diabetics, right?

It kind of knocks you back, and that's just one of the 200 conditions that's made more likely. So, so what we have to do, is we have to weigh those risks, and realistically for me, I would have continued to be obese. I had been obese most of my adult life. I tried dieting a thousand times. I exercised quite a lot actually, and I remained obese.

Now there are some people, sadly, there are only a minority who can lose weight just and keep it off after becoming obese, just by being, just through exercise and diet. And of course you should try that first because that's much less risky than these drugs. But if you're a part of the 90, 85 to 90 percent for whom that doesn't work in the longer term, then we're going to have to have this conversation.

this conversation about the drugs. So what we know about these drugs, the best case for them by far is that if you reverse obesity, you massively improve people's health, right? One of the best ways we know this is actually through a parallel area of science. So people have only been taking these drugs for obesity for a couple of years now.

So actually I think the best way of looking at the benefits is to look at something a little bit different. Let's think about bariatric surgery. Up to now it's been very hard to lose loads of weight and keep it off. The best way, the most reliable way has been bariatric surgery, right? Things like, you know, gastric sleeves, that kind of thing.

So what do we know about bariatric surgery? First thing we know is that it's a horrible, grueling, Horrendous operation. One in a thousand people die in the surgery. It's no joke, but why do people do it? They do it because the benefits to your health of reversing obesity are just staggering. If you have bariatric surgery in the seven years that follow you are 56 percent less likely to die of a heart attack, 60 percent less likely to die of cancer, 92 percent less likely to die of diabetes related causes.

In fact, it's so good for your health in those seven years, you're 40 percent less likely to die. And we know these drugs are bringing us in a similar direction. If you take these drugs in the next couple of years, if you started with a BMI higher than 27, you're 20 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Big deal, but there are really significant risks associated with these drugs. You referred to some of the smaller ones and we can dig into them. There's some that I'm really worried about. The one, this is not one that I'm worried about for myself. There's some that did affect me that I'm sure we'll get to, but there's some A few that I would not describe as small.

And by far the one that I'm most worried about is eating disorders. So, we know there are lots of young girls, it's overwhelmingly girls, there are a few boys, but overwhelmingly girls, who want to starve themselves. I'm guessing most people listening will have, will know someone in their, will have known someone in their life like that.

And what we know is these drugs, are like rocket fuel for eating disorders, as Dr. Kimberly Dennis put it to me, one of the leading eating disorder specialists in the United States. We can go into that in more detail. I wouldn't call that a small risk. That's a really, really big risk. We could have a, in the worst case scenario, if we don't take the steps that I go through in the book to, to regulate these drugs properly, we could have an opioid like death toll of young girls who starve themselves to death.

There are other risks that I'm worried about, but that's, and some that affected me, but that's the biggest one. So I wouldn't say the risks are small, but I would say if you are obese. If you don't have thyroid cancer in your family and you're not trying to get pregnant, I'll explain why I've added those clauses if you like.

I suspect, and you should certainly talk to your doctor, I'm not a doctor, in my judgment, on balance, the benefits outweigh the risk. If you're not obese, if you're only overweight, or in fact, Skinny, then the calculations are completely different. If you're a healthy weight or skinny, definitely shouldn't take the drugs because you're taking all the risks for none of the benefits.

And in fact, taking on some other risks. So yeah, it's complicated picture. Anyone who says there's a one size fits all answer for everyone is not leveling with you. So it's complicated. It's why I hope my book is in part a guide so people can go through. Okay. What are the risks of obesity? What are the risks of these drugs?

How do they apply to me? What What will it likely feel like if I take these drugs, both physically and psychologically? A lot of the book is about how it feels psychologically to take these drugs, which I think is a really underexplored area. I'm conscious that was a very long answer, so I'm going to shut up now.

Zibby: No, no. And I, I felt badly as you were talking, I didn't mean to oversimplify. I was trying to extract sort of Maybe it was a personal interpretation of like, you know, what are the biggest risks, like, for me, perhaps, at this stage in my life, what are the ones you outline, like, aside from the emotions and, and, and full disclosure, I'm on Manjaro, I've lost a bunch of weight on it, and I'm very happy to be on it.

Johann: Oh, I'm so glad for you. 

Zibby: Yeah, but also just want to know and have you, you know, I read the book, so I'm very aware of all the things, but it felt to me like it wasn't as dire, but I don't know. So 

Johann: I think that's really interesting. One of the things that fascinates me about how people have reacted to my book, Magic Pill, is some people come up to me and say, and I'm getting lots of emails.

Some people say. I loved your book. It made me absolutely convinced I must take these drugs immediately. And some other people say to me, I loved your book. It made me convinced I must never take these drugs. And to me that I feel like that's, it's been like the dress, you know, but the blue gold dress, whatever it was, um, I saw it was gold.

To me, that's a sign I've done my job because I think the truth is actually the science around these drugs is pretty complicated. There's a lot we know and a lot we don't know, and we have to weigh the risks and benefits in a very personal way. 

Zibby: I mean, one thing that comes through loud and clear in the book, among others, is the risks based on our societal production of food and the highly processed foods that we eat here and your whole section on Japan and how you analyze, you know, what are they eating versus what are we eating?

And I was literally reading it and I was like, maybe I should only eat Japanese food. Maybe that's the answer. It's like only going to Japanese restaurants.

Johann: I think this is such an important question because When I was overweight, I felt like such a failure. I felt like I, I was failing and doing the research for the book.

One of the things I learned is I wasn't failing at all. I was an entirely typical product of the environment we've created. And, you know, I would just say to anyone watching or listening, just stop for a moment, pause the podcast and Google something for me, just Google photographs of beaches in the United States in the 1970s and just look at them for a minute.

Right. They look really weird to us. Because everyone in them seems to be what we would call skinny. You look at them and go, this is weird. Where was everyone else on the beach that day? Right? And then you look at the figures for what people look like in the United States and Britain, as you can tell from my weird Downton Abbey accent, that's where I'm from.

That's what people look like, right? The explosion of obesity. Has happened incredibly quickly and essentially, I'm looking at you, I'm guessing you're about my age. I'm 45. 

Zibby: 47. 

Johann: In our lifetimes. Right. This extraordinary explosion. So you basically have between 350-300 years where human beings exist in something like our modern form and obesity is extraordinarily rare.

And then in our lifetimes, it blows up right to the point where now 42 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. It's doing. 42 percent of Americans are obese and 70 percent overweight or obese, right? Staggering. Why did it happen? What happened to us? This change happens everywhere where one change takes place.

It's not where people become weak willed or greedy or all the other stigmatizing things we say. It's where one change happens. It's where people move from mostly eating fresh, whole foods that are prepared on the day to mostly eating processed and ultra processed foods. Which are assembled out of chemicals in factories in a process that isn't even known as cooking It's it's called manufacturing food and it turns out this new kind of food that never existed before Affects our bodies in a profoundly different way and there's I go through the seven different ways in which this new kind of food Makes us obese Much more likely to be a beast, but there's an experiment that to me, just totally distilled it.

I've nicknamed it cheesecake park. It's very simple. It's carried out by a brilliant scientist called, called Dr. Paul Kenny. Who's the head of neuroscience at Mount Sinai in New York. Got a lot of rats and raised them in a cage and all they had to eat. It was healthy, nutritious food, the kind they evolved to eat over thousands of years.

And when that's all they had to eat, the rats would eat when they were hungry, and then they would just stop. They had some kind of natural nutritional wisdom that meant they'd go, Oh, I've had enough now. I'm going to stop. They never became overweight. They never became obese when that was the food stuff they had.

Then Professor Kenney, Dr. Kenney, introduced them to To the American diet, he fried up some bacon, he bought a load of Snickers bars, he bought a load of cheesecake, and he put it in the cage alongside the healthy food. And the rats went crazy for the American diet. They would literally dive into the cheesecake and eat their way out, and emerge just completely slicked with cheesecake.

And all that kind of natural wisdom they had about knowing when to stop eating, And they had the healthy food disappeared and they ate and ate and ate and ate. Dr. Kenney said to me within a couple of days they were different animals and they all within a few weeks became actually quite severely obese.

Then Professor Kenney tweaked the experiment again in a way that feels a bit cruel to me as a former KFC addict. He took away the American diet and left them with nothing but the healthy food they'd evolved to eat over thousands of years. And he was sure he knew what would happen. They would eat more of the healthy food than they had at the start.

And this would mean, you know, this would prove that that kind of food, junk food expands the number of calories you eat in a day. That is not what happened. Something much weirder happened. Once they had the American diet and it was taken away, they refused to eat any food at all. They shunned the healthy food.

It was like they no longer recognized it as food. It was only when they were literally starving that they went back and ate it. Now I would argue we are all living in a version of Cheesecake Park now. The food we are eating is undermining our ability to know when we're full, to feel sated, and stop eating.

And it is leading us It led me throughout my life, from when I was very young, to massively overeat. It's not the only thing that's going on, but it's the primary driver of obesity. And once you understand that, you begin to see what these drugs do. Because what this new kind of food does is undermine our ability to feel full, to feel sated, to feel you've had enough.

What these drugs do is they give you back your feeling of being full. I had never felt full in my life until I started taking these drugs. Now I feel full after I eat a small amount, right? I'll never forget when I started taking the drugs. I went to a diner just up the street from where I live. I went in, it was the second day after I'd taken it, and I ordered what I used to order every morning for breakfast, which was slightly embarrassing to say.

It was a huge chicken sandwich with loads of chicken and mayo in it. And usually I would eat that and still want some potato chips. And I had like three mouthfuls and I was just full. I didn't want any more. It was, it was the weirdest feeling. Um, and that was how it was from then on. I went from eating about 3, 200 calories a day to about 1, 800 had a dramatic.

And obviously I lost 40, you know, I lost a huge amount of weight, 42 pounds in a year. 

Zibby: I love in the book that the people at the restaurant were like, are you sick? Are you ill? Is everything okay? I have the same thing too. I'm like, oh wait, I can eat a couple bites and then I leave it. I can like eat half of a cookie.

And just put it down. It's mind blowing. 

Johann: Totally reminded me, reminded me of a real low point in my life. It had, it was Christmas Eve, 2009 at 1 PM. I went to my local branch of KFC where I lived at the time in East London. And I went in and I, I said my standard order, which is so disgusting. I won't repeat it.

And the guy behind the counter said, Oh, Johan, I'm really glad you're here. Wait a minute. And I was like, okay. And he went off behind where they fry all the chicken and everything. And it came back with a massive Christmas card in which and every member of staff and they had written it to our best customer and they would have written these personal messages to me and one of the reasons my heart sank is I thought this isn't even the fried chicken shop I come to the most.

How could this be happening to me? So yeah. 

Zibby: I love that, I love that scene in the book. That was great. You know, I've posted about Majaro and tried to explain the benefits that I have seen and sort of dispel some of the myths that I feel like have been perpetuated. And the thing I've been getting back in many DMs and emails and everything is just, you know, so many people who want to try it, who are obese, but their insurance here is still not covering it.

And what should they do? And what doctor should they see? And it's a whole big mess and then nobody can take it. And then they just are left feeling like knowing there's this magic solution or there's something that could help them and help their health that for whatever reason, the healthcare system is preventing access to.

What do you, what do we do about that? 

Johann: Well, there's a big answer and a small answer. The big answer is. I live about half the year in the U. S. and half the year in Britain. And I am instantly enraged and stunned by how Americans are ripped off every day by the drug companies. So I buy Ozempic here in Britain, it's It's about 220 a month, if I translate it into U.

  1. dollars. When I try to buy it in the U. S., it's about 1, 000 a month, a bit less, you know? It's exactly the same drug. There's not some magic thing that happens as it crosses the Atlantic, right? It's just that in Britain, drug companies are not allowed to rip off people. So the way it works in the U. S., as you don't need me to explain to you, but, Is drug companies employ armies of lobbyists and make massive campaign donations to politicians and in return, politicians of both parties take that money and allow the drug companies to rip you off.

So the big answer is we need to politically stop the drug companies screwing us all over and they don't just do it on a Zempik, they do it on literally everything, right? I mean, everything, insulin, uh, I mean, just, it is unbelievable. No other country allows drug companies to do this. We need to rebel. I would urge people to look up Bernie Sanders speeches on it.

And you know, he's one of the politicians who's bravely spoken out about the politics What the drug companies are doing to people. So that's the big answer, but I'm sure lots of people hear that and go, yeah, I agree with you, but what do I do now? Right. Like that, that's not going to happen tomorrow. And, you know, and by the way, there are, you know, we have made progress on this.

You know, there have been positive steps taken. The drug companies can't rip people off quite as much as they could before Obama care. There have been some positive steps in the last four years, like the regulation of the price of insulin. So, you know, we shouldn't be hopeless. There are things that can be done in terms of what you can do at an individual level.

I don't have a good answer for you. What I can tell you is eight years from now, the entire picture will change because eight years from now, as Zempit goes out of patent, at which point anyone can manufacture it, it'll be a daily pill, it'll be a dollar a day, and I predict half of the American population will be taking it.

Between now and then, it must be enraging beyond belief to know that there is something that can massively reduce your risk of dying, to know that you would be able to afford it if you lived in Britain, but you can't if you live in the US. Unbelievably maddening. One option, which is risky, is to get compounded versions.

So, under American law, it's a bit of a gray area, but under American law, if there's a shortage of a drug, other people are able to, allowed to manufacture copies of it. So, They'll be compounded semaglutides, the active component in this that are available near where you live. It's a bit risky. It's not made in an FDA approved lab.

Some people have gone to get it and they end up getting something that's completely different and it has a terrible effect on them. I hate to explain to people how maddening that situation is, but I can only level with people about the reality of it. It sounds like we should just move to Britain. Well, Britain has its problems, but you don't need to move to Britain.

Americans can fix this, right? Before we have Medicare. Old people used to die a bit, right? Medicare is the most popular institution in the entire country. Right? Medicare is not some fantasy thing, it's not something we have to imagine, oh, maybe one day, right? Everyone over the age of whatever it is, 60, gets Medicare, right?

The, the, we can expand that to people at younger and younger ages. Right? That's, that's, the United States is the richest country in the world. It is scandalous. I mean, don't get, don't let me go on a binge. Okay, okay. You don't have to move to Britain, you just have to fix the United States and it is absolutely fixable and a majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents want to fix this.

Zibby: I want to just touch on your friend Hannah because she sounded really, really special and we've learned a lot about her in the book and your relationship to her and how you haven't forgotten her and I just wanted to acknowledge the loss and say she sounded really funny and really awesome and even though you weren't as close at the time of her passing, it doesn't matter, right?

It's that loss that stays with you forever. So I'm just very, very sorry that that happened to you and to her. 

Johann: Oh, just, just to, just, just to explain to listeners, um, I had a. a wonderful friend who, well, we bonded when we were, I was a teenager. She was a little bit older, a couple of years older than me. And we, we, when we first met, we really bonded over our love of fast food.

And it was one of the kind of staples of our friendship. And she was an incredible person in many ways. And she, she died in her, uh, only a little bit, well, her mid forties, having had a series of, you know, health problems that are all made more likely by obesity at cancer, uh, terrible back pain. She got COVID very badly and then had a heart attack while choking on some food.

So, you know, I think when you were young, the health threats of obesity seemed very abstract. And as you get older, you know, essentially everyone listening will know someone who died of obesity, although we don't think of it that way. You think, oh, my aunt died of cancer. You don't think, oh, right. But your aunt's cancer was made much more likely by her being obese.

Or you think, you know, my friend died of, you know, a heart attack, but right. But was that heart attack made much more likely by obesity? You know, professor Gerald Bermand, who's at Harvard, who designed the food label that's on all food in the United States has calculated that Obesity and food related illnesses cause 678, 000 deaths a year in the United States.

It's not far off, you know, a COVID pandemic every year, right? And most of that is preventable, right? And the way I think about what's happened with these weight loss drugs is processed and ultra processed foods have got us into a trap. And these weight loss drugs are a trap door. Now they're a risky trap door, right?

I go through The 12 big risks associated with them in the book. But for many of us, they're the only trap door we've got, right? Now, we should make sure our kids don't grow up in this trap. And there are lots of ways we can do that. It's too late for you and me, probably. We've lived that life, right? We've had the biological changes that happen when you, Eat a diet that comes mostly from processed and ultra processed foods.

But it's not too late for our children and grandchildren. That's not happening in Japan, where they have almost literally no childhood obesity at all. I've got to tell you, and almost no adult obesity. I've got to tell you, it's a really weird thing. I went to schools in Japan with a thousand children, and you walk around and there is not one overweight child.

And it's, it's all right. This isn't some weird. You know, it's not some fact of nature. This is the result of decisions we have taken as a society, and we can reverse those decisions if we want to. So yeah. 

Zibby: Wow. Last question, speaking of children. I know you touched on this, but thoughts on Manjaro, Ozempic, all the drugs, for children?

Kids at what age? Blah, blah, blah. I know you're not the FDA, but sure. 

Johann: Well, I started writing my book feeling very conflicted and I came to lots of conclusions and I learned a huge amount about how these drugs make you feel. Uh, talking to book about complex psychological issues that come up when you're eating patterns are interrupted, right?

And that can bring to the surface a lot of the deep underlying emotional drivers of your eating that were there all along. Now that can be a good thing, you can deal with them in better ways, but that can be difficult, it was difficult for me. I talk about lots of things we know. We now know about these drugs that I think people need to be prepared for.

And just as I thought I was kind of reaching a kind of conclusion, right? That basically, if you're obese, I think the benefits outweigh the risks, broadly, although there are lots of people for whom that's there are exceptions to that, that I go through in the book. But then I looked at the evidence around kids.

So Novo Nordisk, the Danish company that made Ozempic, is now running a trial on giving these drugs to six year old children. And it really accentuates all the doubts. Both the doubts about obesity. If you are obese, when you're a child, it is exceptionally hard to become unobese so I can see the case for treating it early, but equally, one of the biggest concerns about the drugs, the one that I'm most worried about for myself, because I don't, I'm not concerned.

I might get an eating disorder is we have no idea about the longterm effects of these drugs, right? Diabetics have been taking two diabetics have been taking them for 18 years. But actually people for obesity have only been taking them for two years. There are some concerns about risks that may already be emerging among those diabetics who's taken it for a long time.

But in terms of the long term risk, we have absolutely no idea, right? And we know these drugs work primarily not on your gut, but on your brain. We know they work by changing your brain, though we don't actually know how it changes your brain, which is a bit disconcerting. So if you're looking at a child, and we know these drugs for most people only work for as long as you take them.

So if you're taking these drugs. If you're giving these drugs to a six year old, we're assuming that child will take these drugs for 80 years. What are the long term effects on that child? I asked all the experts. They all give a variant of, Yeah, we don't know. It's a bit worrying, isn't it? So, the issues around kids.

And I, and I interviewed, you know, parents who've given their kids these drugs. So I had a huge amount of sympathy for a lovely, wonderful woman, a nurse in Connecticut called Deborah Tyler, whose daughter was, you know, having, if I remember rightly, kidney and liver problems. You know, when she was eight, she tried all the things, diet and exercise.

I get it, right? I suspect in Deborah's position, I would have made the same decision, and I suspect I would be as agonized as Deborah is about it. It's really, really hard. There's a lot of dilemmas around these drugs. We should never have been put in the position where this was our choice. You know, a risky medical condition versus risky drugs.

We can fix that. I've been to places that have fixed it for people like us. There is that choice. I hope my book, magic pill is a guide. so people can think about what that choice will be and what it will mean for all of us because it's it's it's gonna these 47 percent of americans want to take these drugs this is going to change the world around us in all sorts of complicated ways we need to take a beat and think about what this extraordinary medical breakthrough and what this incredible Medical revolution is going to mean for all of us for some people.

It's going to be life saving people with heart disease For example, it's going to be life saving for some people. It's going to be lethal people with eating disorders for most of us in the middle It's going to be complicated and we've got to think through that complexity and the book is called magic pilka There's three ways these drugs could be magic, right?

The first is the most obvious and if it feels like your experience and my experience are a bit like that It could just solve the problem, right? All my life, I've overeaten. Now once a week, I inject myself with, in the leg, a tiny little scratch. And now I don't ever eat. It feels like magic. The second way it could be magic is more disturbing.

It could be like a magic trick. It could be like a hunter who shows you a card trick while picking your pocket. It could be that over time, the 12 risks that I go through in the book, which are different to the kind of common side effects, it could be that they over time outweigh the benefits. I do not rule that out.

I think that will be the case for some people. Possibly most of us. But the third way it could be magic is I think the most likely. Think about like all the classic stories of magic that we're told when we're kids. Think about like, uh, what would be a good one? Aladdin. You find the lamp, you rub it, the genie appears, you make your wish, and your wish comes true, but never quite in the way you expected.

It always comes true in some weird and unpredictable way. We're already seeing that, there's lots of unpredictable effects of these drugs, and I think, yeah, I think that's why we need to really think very carefully about where we are now. 

Zibby: Okay. Lots to digest, no pun intended. 

Johann: Although we'll digest it much more slowly because of the enzyme take.

Zibby: Yes, I will digest it slowly and not as much of it. Thank you so much, Johan. Oh my gosh, I'm gonna be like stewing. Oh my god, and again, stew. Anyway,. 

Johann: It's very hard to not use. I have to stop. 

Zibby: I will be thinking about your book. I loved your book. I love the way you write. And now I want to go back and read Still in Focus and whatever.

You know, I'm a fan. I'm a huge fan. So congratulations. 

Johann: Oh, I really appreciate you saying that. Thank you so much, and anyone who wants to know where to get the audio book, the ebook, or the physical book, you can get it basically anywhere. But if you go to magic pill, you can get more information about it.

Zibby: Congratulations. 

Johann: Oh, thanks so much. 

Zibby: Thank you. 

Johann: Hooray. 

Zibby: Thanks for the time.

Johann: I really enjoyed that. Thank you so much. 

Zibby: Thank you. Bye-Bye. 

Johann: Cheers. 

Zibby: Cheers. 

Johann: Bye. 

Zibby: Bye Bye.

Johann Hari, MAGIC PILL

Purchase your copy on Bookshop!

Share, rate, & review the podcast, and follow Zibby on Instagram @zibbyowens