Originally developed as a treatment for managing blood glucose (sugar) levels in people with type 2 diabetes, Ozempic has seen a surge in popularity in recent years.

Its appeal has broadened beyond the diabetes community, catching the attention of those without the condition who are in pursuit of weight-loss solutions. 

What are the benefits of Ozempic? Can it improve your health? And can it help you lose weight? 

This article will investigate everything you need to know about Ozempic and weight loss.

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Key Points:

  • Ozempic, originally approved for managing blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, has gained popularity for its off-label use in weight loss, showing significant results in clinical trials with an average weight loss of about 15 percent of body weight.
  • The drug works by increasing insulin sensitivity, suppressing appetite, and slowing digestion, contributing to its effectiveness in weight management. However, weight tends to be regained if the medication is discontinued.
  • Common side effects include gastrointestinal issues and more severe risks like thyroid tumors and pancreatitis, making it important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting Ozempic.
  • Off-label use of this medicine for weight-loss purposes has led to a national shortage due to the growing demand.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic, with the active ingredient semaglutide, is part of a class of medications known as GLP-1 agonists. 

Marketed under various brand names, including Ozempic for type 2 diabetes and Wegovy for weight management, this medicine is a product of the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. 

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 for type 2 diabetes management, Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication designed to improve blood sugar levels and A1c (a measure of glucose control over the previous 2 to 3 months) in adults.

Read about reducing your A1c in: How to Lower Your A1c and How to Lower A1c Naturally.

How does Ozempic work for diabetes?

The drug works by improving insulin secretion and sensitivity and reducing the liver’s glucagon release, thereby lowering blood sugar. 

Its cardiovascular benefits are notable too, with evidence supporting its ability to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes in people with type 2 diabetes and existing heart disease.

How does Ozempic help you lose weight?

Ozempic also plays a role in weight management. It achieves this in two ways: by decreasing appetite and slowing the digestive process. This combination can lead to weight loss for many users. 

Read more in: Everything You Need to Know About Ozempic.

What are the side effects of Ozempic?

Ozempic can cause side effects ranging from common gastrointestinal issues to more serious conditions such as thyroid tumors and pancreatitis. 

Immediate medical attention is recommended for severe reactions. 

The medication is not advised during pregnancy or breastfeeding. 

Speak with your medical team before starting Ozempic to determine if this medicine is right for you.

For a more comprehensive exploration of the potential adverse effects, read: Ozempic Side Effects.

Can Ozempic help you lose weight? 

While it is approved to regulate blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, Ozempic is also recognized for its weight-loss benefits.

This has led to its “off-label” (not approved by the FDA) use for weight management in people who are overweight or obese.

In a significant development, the FDA approved a different formulation of semaglutide, branded as Wegovy, in June 2021 specifically for weight management in adults and certain adolescents who are overweight or obese and have at least one weight-related condition like hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes.

Learn more about the similarities and differences between these medicines in: Ozempic vs. Wegovy — Which Drug Is Right for You?

Additionally, Ozempic and similar GLP-1 agonists have found off-label use in managing type 1 diabetes, with some people experiencing notable weight loss under careful medical supervision.

I don’t experience vicious high blood sugars as often now, and when I do, they are less ‘sticky’ — they don’t stay high for as long, and the crash down isn’t as severe.

Stevie Cook, T1D (read about Stevie’s experience with Ozempic)

Research on Ozempic for weight loss

Research reinforces the weight loss potential of semaglutide, with participants experiencing significant reductions in body weight over time when combined with lifestyle modifications. 

For instance, over a 68-week period in one study, trial participants using Ozempic reported an average weight loss of 10 to 15 percent, compared to a 2 percent loss in the placebo (inactive treatment) group. However, it’s important to note that weight tends to be regained if the medication is discontinued.

Another two-year study showed similar results, with participants on semaglutide losing an average of 16.7 percent of their total body weight versus 0.6 percent with placebo. 

Those taking semaglutide were also much more likely to lose at least 5 percent of their body weight, with nearly 84 percent of those on the medicine losing at least that much weight. 

Yet more data from the SURE Denmark/Sweden study showed not only statistically significant weight loss among participants using semaglutide but also improved A1c levels as well. 

These findings highlight the effectiveness of semaglutide in weight loss. The decision to use this medication, however, should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider, considering its originally intended use and your overall health.

Who should not take Ozempic? 

Only take Ozempic if it has been prescribed by your medical team. Ozempic is typically prescribed for people managing type 2 diabetes, especially those dealing with insulin resistance.

The off-label use of Ozempic for weight loss has contributed to a national shortage, impacting those who need it for diabetes management.

Although not FDA-approved for type 1 diabetes, Ozempic may be prescribed off-label for this condition if you’re experiencing high blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity issues.

Using Ozempic does not eliminate the need for insulin therapy.

Ozempic is contraindicated (not advised) during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while on Ozempic, you’ll need to discontinue its use.

Avoid Ozempic if you have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).

Do not use Ozempic if you are allergic to semaglutide or any of its components. Always share your full medication list with your doctor before beginning Ozempic.

While Ozempic is generally safe for many people, it should be approached with caution in people with a history of pancreatitis or serious hypersensitivity reactions to semaglutide. 

Additionally, those undergoing active treatment for diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina of the eye) should speak with their healthcare provider, as Ozempic might have an impact on the progression of diabetic eye diseases.

Suggested next article: Everything You Need to Know About Ozempic.