As interest has intensified around Ozempic and other injectable diabetes medications like Mounjaro, which works in similar ways, that term has gained traction. Videos related to the subject “food noise explained” have been viewed 1.8 billion times on TikTok. And some of the people who have managed to get their hands on these medications — despite persistent shortages and list prices that can near or surpass a thousand dollars — have shared stories on social media about their experiences.
When food noise fades
Wendy Gantt, 56, said she first heard the term food noise on TikTok, where she had also learned about Mounjaro. She found a telehealth platform and received a prescription within a few hours. She can remember the first day she started taking it last summer. “It was like a sense of freedom from that loop of, ‘What am I going to eat? I’m never full; there’s not enough. What can I snack on?’” she said. “It’s like someone took an eraser to it.”
For some, the shortages of these medications have provided a test case, a way to see their lives with and without food noise. Kelsey Ryan, 35, an insurance broker in Canandaigua, N.Y., hasn’t been able to fill her Ozempic prescription for the last few weeks, and the noise has crept back in. It’s not just the pull of soft-serve each day, she said. Food noise, to Ms. Ryan, also means a range of other food-related thoughts: internal negotiations about whether to eat in front of other people, wondering if they’ll judge her for eating fried chicken or if ordering a salad makes it look like she’s trying too hard. Ozempic is more of a way to silence the food noise than anything else, she said.
“It’s a tool,” she said. “It’s not like a magic drug that’s giving people an easy way out.”
What causes food noise?
There is no clinical definition for food noise, but the experts and patients interviewed for this article generally agreed it was shorthand for constant rumination about food. Some researchers associate the concept with “hedonic hunger,” an intense preoccupation with eating food for the purpose of pleasure, and noted that it could also be a component of binge eating disorder, which is common but often misunderstood.
Obesity medicine specialists have tried to better understand why a person may ruminate about food for some time, said Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association. “It just seems to be that some people are a little more wired this way,” he said. Obsessive rumination about food is most likely a result of genetic factors as well as environmental exposure and learned habits, said Dr. Janice Jin Hwang, chief of the division of endocrinology and metabolism at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.