Curious About Ozempic for Weight Loss? An Obesity Doctor Just Weighed In With a Healthy Dose of Reality
Drugs like Ozempic (semaglutide) and Wegovy get a lot of media bandwidth in weight loss because:
A.) They work. In a study of semaglutide in overweight or obese people, those who took the drug and made lifestyle changes lost an average of nearly 15 percent of their body weight. That's the main thing.
and B.) fact Their work drives many people who aren't obese to pay out of pocket (sometimes as much as $1,500 a month) to take the drug just to lose a few pounds—everyone from Chelsea Handler to Elon Musk has public opinion about taking it Information about this type of drug.
The hype surrounding the use of Ozempic for weight loss has driven demand soaring that those who really need it for medical reasons—mainly diabetics and obese people—are struggling to get it. But now that these drugs are available, the best way to use them clinically to address America's obesity epidemic is for licensed healthcare professionals to prescribe them based on the medical needs of physicians who understand these diseases and how to treat them.
Let's back it up. Did you know that over 400 genes are linked to overweight and obesity? So if you've struggled with losing weight your whole life, it may actually be a biological issue with you. It's these biological factors, beyond anyone's control, that prompted the American Medical Association in 2013 to recognize obesity as a chronic, progressive, and complex disease that requires medical treatment. Here's another fact: 99% of doctors aren't trained to treat it.
Therefore, most doctors tacitly recommend that patients should eat less and move more. Yes: While healthy eating and exercise are important for good health, they're actually an incomplete cure for obesity. There is a better solution that could involve medication, but the diet, exercise program, and prescription need to be developed by a licensed healthcare professional as part of an overall picture.
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How Can Diabetes Medications Like Ozempic Help With Weight Loss?
Ozempic is one of a class of drugs called GLP-1 or glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists. Although most are FDA-approved for diabetes, doctors have been prescribing them for weight loss. Your body actually produces GLP-1 — a hormone produced in the small intestine in response to eating a meal, and its job is to signal your brain when you're full. It also helps regulate blood sugar and slows gastric emptying (making you feel fuller, for longer).
People with diabetes or obesity (or both) may not produce enough GLP-1, or their bodies may become resistant to the GLP-1 it produces. Therefore, taking drugs that mimic its effects, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, can help with weight loss.
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So could a drug like Ozempic solve obesity?
GLP-1 appears to be becoming the new gold standard in weight loss care. However, many face access problems: GLP-1 is an expensive drug without insurance. Some insurance companies do not cover obesity medications, and some states do not require insurance plans to cover obesity treatment.
Another thing to keep in mind is that obesity has many causes – it's a complex disease – and GLP-1 may not be the missing factor for everyone. Other drugs may be more effective solutions. Physicians specializing in weight care are needed to provide individualized weight loss treatments to individual patients. Weight loss that really works includes features like behavior change programs, wellness coaching, and virtual support communities…because medication alone can only do so much. In clinical studies, my colleagues in weight loss and endocrinology research found that patients who received medication and support lost at least 13% more weight, and in some cases more, than those who received the same medication229 %.
It is important for anyone with obesity to work with caregivers to understand what is causing their condition, get a treatment plan aimed at addressing the problem, follow a healthy lifestyle, and manage their Monitor to adjust strategy (remember, obesity is progressive). The good news is that there are now more options than ever to help with obesity. Medication may help, but it's only a small part of it.
GLP-1 RA Mechanism of Action | Ozempic® (semaglutide) Injection 0.5 mg, 1 mg or 2 mg. (nd). New Medicine Link. https://www.novomedlink.com/diabetes/products/treatments/ozempic/about/mechanism-of-action.html
Ozempic® (semaglutide) injection 0.5 mg or 1 mg for type 2 diabetes. (nd). https://www.ozempic.com/
Wilding, JP, Batterham, RL, Calanna, S., Davies, M., Van Gaal, LF, Lingvay, I., McGowan, BM, Rosenstock, J., Tran, MT, Wadden, TA, Wharton, S., Yokote, K., Zeuthen, N., and Kushner, RF (2021). Once-weekly Semaglutide in overweight or obese adults. New England Journal of Medicine, 384(11), 989-1002. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2032183