Don’t Be Envious of Celebs Taking Ozempic for Weight Loss — Here Are 8 Bad Side Effects

For years, we've been hearing about miracle weight loss products that promise to shed pounds. Some are far-fetched, some are dangerous enough to be illegal, and some have already been thrust into the limelight — recent examples being Ozempic and WeGovy. The drugs, originally developed to treat diabetes, are now often prescribed via telemedicine to people trying to lose weight. And it all started in Hollywood.

type Ozempic and WeGovy have reportedly taken the industry by storm, trying everyone from reality TV stars to filmmakers to actors. (Chelsea Handler says her doctor prescribed Ozempic — without explaining what — in case she wanted to lose five pounds. Elon Musk tweets WeGovy helps him look fit and lean. ) Since many health insurance companies refuse to pay for non-diabetics (about $1,200-$1,500 per month), only the rich can afford the injections. However, the average consumer should be far from envious of celebrities who can pay for it by losing weight — as these drugs have some potentially serious side effects.

How Ozempic and WeGovy work

Both Ozempic and WeGovy have the same active ingredient: semaglutide. It is a solution that is injected into the stomach once a week and works by stimulating the release of insulin. The drug also inhibits the secretion of glucagon, a hormone produced by the pancreas that increases blood sugar levels — but only if blood sugar levels are already elevated. This reduces the risk of hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar levels). Finally, semaglutide slows down digestion, making patients feel fuller for a longer period of time. All of this can translate into substantial weight loss.

Negative Effects of Semaglutide

Although some users consider semaglutide to be one of the best ways to start a healthy lifestyle, health experts warn that the drug has some serious side effects, which are listed below.

  • Nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, heartburn, diarrhea, or vomiting

  • rash, itching, swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, tongue, throat, legs, ankles, or feet

  • trouble breathing or swallowing

  • decreased urination

  • vision changes, fainting, or dizziness

  • Heartbeat

  • You may regain some or all of your weight when you stop taking the medicine

  • If you take this drug with other blood sugar-lowering medicines, your blood sugar may drop too much

In addition, some semaglutide users have developed serious kidney problems, including acute kidney injury. Symptoms include blood in the urine, decreased urination, muscle twitching, nausea, rapid weight gain, and seizures. You should not take semaglutide if you have a history of thyroid cancer or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

the bottom line

If you're curious about losing weight with generic semaglutide, Ozempic, or WeGovy, talk to your doctor—not just a telehealth doctor. Depending on your medical condition and potential side effects, it's likely more trouble than it's worth. Additionally, the sudden popularity of the drug has made it difficult for people with severe diabetes to take it as prescribed. (Although some prediabetic and diabetic patients who take the drug also report that the risk is not worth the risk.) Finally, the diet pill reinforces the “thin is desirable” mentality—something that experts worry about for people with or recovering from eating disorders.

You're more than a number on a scale — don't let Hollywood tell you otherwise.

If you or someone you love has an eating disorder, The National Eating Disorders Association offers a toll-free helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or by text 1-800-931-2237.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your doctor before embarking on any treatment plan.

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