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Accepted Contribution:

GLP-1 receptor agonist and the problems with appetite  
Jieun Lee

Short abstract:

Examining stories of Saxenda in Korea, this presentation asks how this hormone-mimicking molecule reshapes stories of body and mind, and brain and other parts of the body, around appetite, and how the popular imaginary of hormone’s work is at work in the talks about Saxenda.

Long abstract:

GLP-1 receptor agonists are drugs that mimic a gut hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1. First developed as a medicine for type-2 diabetes, they are now known as appetite suppressant that could induce weight loss. In South Korea, the recent media hype over Wegovy in turn has renewed interests in its precursor Saxenda, another GLP-1 mimicking medication to be injected on a daily basis, which had a huge sales growth in the Korean “obesity drug” market. It is casually prescribed to people without obesity, sometimes through newly established telemedicine apps, simply as appetite-suppresant “diet drug”. With its status as a hormone, working not in the CNS, it is seen safe unlike the diet pills of previous generation, which made it possible for Saxenda to be prescribed online, without the consultation between doctors and patients. The potential long-term side effects of having this molecule, with different temporal presence in the body than the GLP-1, evades popular discourses. Furthermore, the popularity of Saxenda shows how “appetite” itself is now seen as a problem of hormone than will, or the body than mind, while appetite among people who couldn’t lose weight with it are now rendered ever more disorderly. Examining how Saxenda is sold, discussed, and experimented with in Korea, this presentation asks what this hormone-mimicking molecule reshapes stories of body and mind, and brain and other parts of the body, and bodily temporalities around appetite. The paper further explores how the popular imaginary of hormone’s work is at work in the talks about Saxenda.

Combined Format Open Panel P271
Making and doing hormonal theory
  Session 1