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Are Celebrities Really Using Ozempic for Weight Loss?

By Orgesta Tolaj


16 September 2023

hand holding injection shot

© cottonbro studio / Pexels

Kim Kardashian is supposedly using it. Elon Musk himself admitted it. Many celebrities are thanking Ozempic for their sudden weight loss. But what is Ozempic and why are these celebrities using it? Well, a quick search online would tell you that it is a drug. So, why are celebrities and influencers so okay with using ozempic for weight loss?

What Is Ozempic?

Semaglutide is a drug that is sold under the brand name Ozempic. According to the FDA, this prescription drug is used to treat type 2 diabetes. It is a member of the pharmacological class known as GLP-1 receptor agonists.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a hormone that is often produced in the intestines. It is produced in response to food consumption and GLP-1 receptor agonists imitate this hormone’s function by acting similarly. By encouraging the release of insulin and inhibiting the production of glucagon, another hormone that elevates blood sugar, GLP-1 aids with blood sugar regulation. Additionally, it slows down the stomach’s emptying, which can aid in hunger management and weight loss.

How Does Ozempic Work?

Ozempic is typically administered as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously) once a week. It is often used in conjunction with diet and exercise to help control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes when other oral medications have not been effective on their own. It can also be used to help manage body weight in people with obesity.

It’s important to note that Ozempic and other GLP-1 receptor agonists are not used to treat type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis. They are specifically indicated for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

The Rise of Ozempic

Videos tagged with #ozempic on TikTok have amassed over an impressive 1.2 billion views. This surge in popularity has been attributed to causing a nationwide shortage of the medication, leaving some long-reliant diabetic patients without their necessary treatment. Similar attention on social media platforms like TikTok has also been directed toward Wegovy and Mounjaro, resulting in increased scrutiny.

In a recent study, it was revealed that approximately two-thirds of patients tend to discontinue the use of weight loss drugs such as Wegovy within a year. Additionally, news emerged this week that an EU drug regulator would be broadening its investigation into Novo Nordisk’s medications, examining reported suicidal side effects and involving other drug manufacturers in the inquiry. These developments raise concerns about the future of these emerging treatments.

The Connection Between Ozempic and Weight Loss

While Ozempic is not specifically marketed as a weight loss medication, research funded by Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic, suggests that individuals taking semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, may experience weight loss. In fact, the FDA approved semaglutide for weight loss in 2021, marketed as Wegovy. Wegovy contains a higher dose of semaglutide (2.4 milligrams) compared to Ozempic, which offers doses of 0.5 milligrams, 1 milligram, or 2 milligrams of semaglutide.

Semaglutide, as a GLP-1 receptor agonist, enhances the effects of the natural hormone GLP-1. GLP-1 affects weight through two key mechanisms: it reduces hunger, appetite, and cravings by impacting the brain’s hunger centers, and it slows the emptying of the stomach, leading to extended feelings of fullness after meals. This combination results in decreased hunger, prolonged fullness, and, ultimately, weight loss, according to Dr. McGowan.

The Problem With Using Ozempic for Weight Loss

Like any medication, there can be drawbacks to using drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy. The most common side effects include gastrointestinal problems like nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. Some rarer but more serious side effects such as pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, and diabetic retinopathy are also possible. Some individuals may experience extreme vomiting and gastroparesis, which can cause delayed stomach emptying and a prolonged feeling of fullness.

ozempic shot
© sweetlifeidabetes / Unsplash

Nausea, a common side effect, can sometimes lead to vomiting, which is why it’s advisable to discontinue these medications before surgery to prevent aspiration and vomiting. These drugs have undergone extensive research, but their recent approval means that long-term effects are not yet fully understood.

Research suggests that stopping these medications may lead to weight regain, especially without lifestyle changes. Maintaining a healthy foundation through proper diet, exercise, and sleep is crucial for long-term success. It is important to note that these medications can be quite expensive. This is true particularly for individuals without insurance, with injection pens costing over $1,000.

Why You Should Not Use Ozempic for Weight Loss Purposes?

Using Ozempic for anything other than type-2 diabetes is considered using the drug for off-label purposes. Using a medication off-label means using it for purposes other than what it was specifically approved for by the FDA, which can be potentially unsafe and ineffective. Ozempic is only approved for treating type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy is approved for individuals with a BMI over 30, or 27 if they have a weight-related health issue like high blood pressure.

There is no scientific evidence to support the use of these medications for individuals who don’t meet the FDA-approved criteria, such as those with a BMI lower than 27, according to experts like Chao. Using these drugs in such cases could lead to unknown side effects and risks. They are not intended as quick fixes. Attempting to obtain these medications without a prescription, such as by traveling to countries where they are available without one, is strongly discouraged.

Side Effects to Consider

Recent reports of severe side effects like vomiting and gastroparesis underscore the importance of regular checkups with a healthcare provider while using these medications. Patients should not increase their Ozempic or Wegovy doses without a doctor’s approval, as this could lead to adverse effects.

The American Diabetes Association expresses concern about the shortage of Ozempic, as the medication has been valuable in managing diabetes by reducing blood glucose, promoting weight loss, and decreasing cardiovascular events like heart attacks. These are all significant causes of death among people with diabetes, according to Robert Gabbay, the organization’s chief scientific and medical officer.

Is Ozempic Safe?

Ozempic is a safe medication that offers various benefits. It is particularly beneficial for approximately 80% of patients with type 2 diabetes who also have concurrent obesity. For these individuals, Ozempic provides a dual benefit by helping to manage both diabetes and obesity. Additionally, Ozempic has demonstrated its ability to reduce major adverse coronary events. This includes heart attacks and strokes, along with several other advantages.

However, it is important to acknowledge that Ozempic is not suitable for everyone. Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer, advises against its use in individuals with the following conditions:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Those under 18 years of age
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Pancreatic or renal issues
  • A family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), which is an endocrine system disorder.

Ozempic is a medication with significant potential benefits, particularly for individuals with type 2 diabetes and concurrent obesity. It offers a dual advantage in managing both conditions and has shown promise in reducing major adverse coronary events. However, its use is not suitable for everyone, and caution is advised for individuals with specific medical conditions, such as pancreatitis, type 1 diabetes, and others outlined by the manufacturer.

Please note: Any use of prescription medications, including Ozempic, should be discussed with a qualified healthcare professional to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for an individual’s specific medical needs and circumstances. Using medications off-label or without medical supervision can pose health risks and may not lead to desired outcomes.

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!