Ozempic is having a moment—and not always for the right reasons. Here’s what to know

Ozempic is having a moment—and not always for the right reasons. Here’s what to know

Ozempic has become increasingly popular for weight loss, even among those who may not need the drug. Making it harder for those who do need it to get it.

Morgan Pavon, MS, RD, LD
May 15, 2023
5 min read
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Your sister and coworker are using it, and you’ve read about all the celebs raving about it. Of course, we’re talking about taking Ozempic for weight loss. We can’t blame you if you’re curious whether you should jump on the bandwagon. The weight loss stats can be pretty impressive. 

What is Ozempic? 

Semaglutide, a chemical compound also found in Wegovy, is sold under the brand name Ozempic. It’s an injectable drug designed to work alongside diet and exercise to help people with diabetes lower their blood sugar and A1C. It does this by making the pancreas release insulin in response to high blood sugar levels. It also reduces the risk of major cardiovascular events—like heart attack and stroke—something those with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of developing.

Ozempic helps those with type 2 diabetes feel fuller sooner by slowing down how quickly food leaves the stomach, which can aid weight loss. And that’s the benefit that has people swarming to the drug—many of whom don’t have obesity or diabetes but just want to drop a few pounds. (Medications like this used for weight loss off-label are meant to be taken long-term by people with a BMI of 30 or greater or a BMI of 27 for those with serious medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or sleep apnea.) The problem is this trend has created such a high demand that patients who genuinely need the medication may not be able to get it. 

Why is Ozempic prescribed for weight loss?

While it’s not FDA-approved for weight loss, health care providers can prescribe Ozempic for weight care off-label, at their discretion.  In a study that looked at the effectiveness of semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity, those on the medication who also made lifestyle changes lost an average of nearly 15% of their body weight, compared to less than 3% of those in the placebo group. That’s a big difference. And there’s evidence that when semaglutide is paired with healthy lifestyle habits, it can significantly reduce body weight—lowering the risk of diseases linked to obesity, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And Semaglutide also improved cardiometabolic risk factors and physical functioning—meaning that people were getting healthier and feeling better, too. 

According to Found’s Chief Medical Officer Rekha Kumar, MD, “there are risks with taking medicines, and they can outweigh the benefits in normal weight people without diabetes.” She also notes that medications like Ozempic must be taken long-term to maintain weight loss. Those looking for a quick fix won’t be happy to know that they will likely regain the weight they lost once they stop taking the meds. 

If you’re curious about this or any other weight-loss medication—including those prescribed for off-label use—it’s important to talk to your physician to find the best match based on your health history and lifestyle. The providers at Found can look at your medical history and determine whether a GLP-1 like this might be right for you—and find other options if it’s not. Lab work is often required before starting treatment and you should be monitored to see if you need adjustments in your medication.  

GLP-1*

GLP-1 prescriptions, filled through your local pharmacy, are now available as part of Found's weight-loss toolkit. While GLP-1s are effective for weight loss, they are not clinically appropriate for everyone. Eligibility for a GLP-1 is based on a thorough evaluation of your medical history, eating behavior, lab work, and insurance coverage. If a GLP-1 is not appropriate for you, our providers will work with you to determine an effective medication for your health profile.

About Found

Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving more than 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

Published date:
May 15, 2023
Meet the author
Morgan Pavon, MS, RD, LD
Health writer

Sources

  • GLP-1 RA Mechanism of Action | Ozempic® (semaglutide) injection 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg. (n.d.). novoMEDLINK. https://www.novomedlink.com/diabetes/products/treatments/ozempic/about/mechanism-of-action.html
  • R. Kumar, personal communication, Nov 5, 2022.
  • Ozempic® (semaglutide) Injection 0.5 mg or 1 mg for Type 2 Diabetes. (n.d.). https://www.ozempic.com/
  • Wilding, J. P., Batterham, R. L., Calanna, S., Davies, M., Van Gaal, L. F., Lingvay, I., McGowan, B. M., Rosenstock, J., Tran, M. T., Wadden, T. A., Wharton, S., Yokote, K., Zeuthen, N., & Kushner, R. F. (2021). Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 384(11), 989–1002. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2032183
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