Ozempic for weight loss: a magic drug?

ozempic for weight loss

Ozempic is FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-approved injectable medication prescribed to adults with type 2 diabetes to manage their blood sugar. However, it became a growing weight loss trend for people without diabetes, who started taking Ozempic for weight loss.

As Ozempic isn’t approved for weight loss, Novo Nordisk (the company that makes Ozempic) presented a new brand name Wegovy which is used for treating people with overweight and other weight-related medical problems. The active ingredient, known as semaglutide, is the generic name for both Wegovy and Ozempic, making them essentially the same medication available in different doses.

However, high demand on Wegovy and supply chain strains caused a medication shortage. As a result, Wegovy weight loss medication has repeatedly been unavailable since its introduction, and many people are turning to the off-label use of Ozempic.


How does Ozempic for weight loss work?

As mentioned earlier, semaglutide is an active Ozempic compound that stimulates weight loss. The semaglutide enhances the effects of the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1(produced by the digestive system in response to eating). According to Christopher McGowan, M.D., a gastroenterologist specializing in obesity medicine and endobariatrics, and founder of True You Weight Loss in North Carolina, GLP-1 also impacts weight via two fundamental mechanisms:

  • It affects the hypothalamus – the brain’s hunger center, resulting in hunger and appetite reduction;
  • Makes you feel full and satiety during the day.

However, it should be noted that Ozempic and other related GLP-1 drugs are chronic medications that are aimed at treating chronic conditions. That’s why they have to be taken for an extended period. For example, Rekha Kumar, M.D., head of Medical Affairs at an evidence-based weight care program Found and practicing endocrinologist at an academic medical center in New York City, notes that sudden coming off medication may result in regaining most of the weight loss within several months.

What are common Ozempic side effects?

Christopher McGowan, M.D. informs there were 4 studies (published in the New England Journal of Medicine) showing that Ozempic is highly effective in weight loss in overweight individuals. Still, people who do not have diabetes should be aware of the risks and ozempic side effects.

The most common side effects are gastrointestinal in nature: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Consequently, Dr. Alexander, a board-certified obesity medicine specialist and president-elect of the Obesity Medicine Association, advises eating slowly to help improve Ozempic gastrointestinal side effects. Also, she notes that these side effects are usually short-term and should be improved in a few days.

However, Ozempic may cause other more severe side effects. Below you can find some of them:

  • pancreas inflammation
  • low blood sugar
  • allergic reactions
  • problems with kidney
  • thyroid tumors or cancer
  • hypertension (read more about this medical condition in our article)

California-based Lydia Alexander, M.D., also notes that Ozempic does not work like insulin, which is inherently dangerous for people without diabetes. However, it may cause side effects, especially when you first start taking the drug.

Who cannot use Ozempic for weight loss?

Fatima Cody Stanford, M.D., an obesity medicine physician-scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, associate professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School Unit, and advisory board member at Sweetch, states that Ozempic is a safe medication for patients with type 2 diabetes. However, there are some cases when individuals with the following conditions should avoid using Ozempic:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • individuals under the age of 18
  • Pancreatitis
  • Problems with the pancreas or kidneys
  • Problems with endocrine system condition

As with any prescription medication, you must consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers on whether this medication is safe and appropriate.

How to get prescribed Ozempic for weight loss?

You may wonder how to get Ozempic for weight loss. As mentioned earlier, Ozempic is approved only for treating type 2 diabetes. Ozempic for weight loss non-diabetic individuals is only possible to take ‘off-label,’ which means for use other than what is approved by the FDA, with a prescription from their doctor. When a doctor prescribes Ozempic for weight loss for a person without diabetes, it is because he understands your health history, health goals, lifestyle, and personal risks.

However, you should remember that Ozempic is designed for people with type 2 diabetes, especially those who are suffering extra weight or obesity, as it helps to control blood sugar and lose weight. For primary obesity treatment, Wegovy is the best option for individuals struggling to lose weight through diet and exercise alone. Besides, off-label use of Ozempic caused a medication shortage for those who need it most—individuals with type 2 diabetes.

There are many factors to consider when it goes to weight loss. First, a person should take into account age, health conditions, activity level, sex, and so on. When you are planning to take Ozempic for weight loss purposes, the support of your primary care doctor or a healthcare provider is an important step to take.

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