A doctor explains how Ozempic works for weight loss
The drug Ozempic has been popular for a long time because it helps people lose weight. It's in such great demand that there's been a nationwide shortage.
The cultural influence is also huge.
Any celebrity who recently lost weight has been accused of using Ozempic, and scores of people on TikTok are documenting their weight loss experiences using the drug.
So how did Ozempic become like this?
Dr Ross Walker, cardiologist and chief medical officer at Diabetes Health Australia, explained the drug took off after a prominent article in 2021 New England Journal of Medicine documented a study that administered the drug to obese people and found great success in weight loss.
However, Dr. Walker cautioned that they didn't show what happened afterwards: “The results were impressive, but what they didn't show was what was really going on with these people and what their lives were like when they stopped taking the drug.”
It is also important to emphasize that Ozempic is not just a weight loss pill, it is important. It's actually designed to help diabetics.
It releases insulin from the pancreas and inhibits the opposite hormone glucagon, which raises blood sugar. This can regulate blood sugar levels and improve diabetes management.
As a result, people with diabetes were denied access to vital medicines when demand rose and shortages developed nationwide.
Therefore, the fact that people use it purely for weight loss is controversial.
Nonetheless, there is no denying that Ozempic works really well as a weight loss pill. But what to do?
“Ozempic comes from a group of drugs called GLP_1 agonists, also known as glutides,” said Dr. Walker.
“These drugs not only suppress appetite, but also regulate the metabolism of food and stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas after meals, thereby reducing the spike in blood sugar caused by certain foods.”
So is it a healthy way to lose weight? Well, yes and no.
Dr. Walker suggests that the healthiest way to lose weight is the old-fashioned way of eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.
However, he recognized that Ozempic could help facilitate the process.
“Ozempic and other GLP-1 agonists have been shown to help this process in people with diabetes and those who are trying to lose weight through these important lifestyle changes,” Dr. Walker explained.
“They can be seen as a reasonable way to start a weight loss program, but should not be used as a long-term solution.”
While you may see weight loss with Ozempic, Dr. Walker stresses that there isn't enough research to know if the drug is safe for long-term use.
“There are no long-term studies showing the safety of these drugs after several years of treatment, and all drugs have the potential to have long-term side effects,” he explained.
Perhaps the scariest question of all – will the weight come back once you stop taking it?
“All weight loss programs are effective as long as you stick to the plan, but with drugs like Ozempic, the weight usually comes back once you stop treatment or relax with lifestyle changes,” Dr. Walker explains.