What Is Ozempic for Weight Loss & Should You Try It?

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What is Ozempic for weight loss? How does it work? Is it worth trying out?

If you’ve spent time on TikTok, you may have come across videos documenting the drastic body transformations of people using the prescription drug Ozempic for weight loss. These videos have racked up hundreds of millions of views and drummed up interest in this so-called “wonder drug.” 

Keep reading to learn more about what Ozempic is and how it’s being used for weight loss.

Using Ozempic for Weight Loss

Recently, viral TikTok posts have led to massive demand and, subsequently, a global shortage of a diabetes drug called Ozempic due to claims it has helped many lose a significant amount of weight. So, what is Ozempic for weight loss? Ozempic is an injectable diabetes drug that’s increasingly being prescribed off-label for weight loss, though it isn’t actually formulated for weight loss, losing weight is merely a side effect.

Side effect or not, slimming down is an enticing prospect for many people: In the U.S., more than 40% of adults are obese, while globally, nearly two billion adults are overweight and 650 million are obese. And Ozempic can lead to dramatic weight loss: Users can lose up to 14 pounds and many have lost much more than that—one YouTuber lost 45 pounds

Much of the interest may not be due to health reasons for weight loss but to the pressure to conform to society’s idea of the “perfect” body, as peddled by celebrities and social media influencers. Variety reports that Ozempic is an open secret in Hollywood, now as much a part of grooming routines as hair and makeup. Media personality Kim Kardashian is rumored to have used the drug to shed 16 pounds in three weeks so she could fit into her Met Gala dress. With the demand for Ozempic skyrocketing, the drug is now on the FDA’s list of shortages (as of December 2022).

What Is Ozempic and How Does It Work? 

Ozempic was developed by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. It’s the brand name of an FDA-approved drug called semaglutide, which is administered through once-a-week injections (in the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm) and is meant to treat type 2 diabetes. It works by mimicking a hormone that stimulates insulin release and lowers blood sugar levels while also making you feel full for longer and suppressing your appetite.

Ozempic Is Prescribed Off-Label for Weight Loss

Since the FDA has only approved Ozempic as a diabetes treatment, health care providers have been giving it “off-label,” meaning the approved drug is prescribed for an unapproved use (in this case, weight loss). This doesn’t necessarily mean that health care providers are doing something illegal or reckless—they typically prescribe drugs off-label when patients have exhausted approved treatments without seeing results.

More concerning is the fact that some people may be getting Ozempic through spas or illegitimate sources with no medical supervision. Others may be lying to health professionals on online consultations, inflating their body mass index (or BMI, a determining factor for prescribing semaglutide) to get their hands on the drug.

Is There a Downside to Using Ozempic?

While weight loss itself is a side effect of using Ozempic, there are other side effects that are less than desirable. These include nausea, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting.

And if these side effects aren’t enough to put you off Ozempic, the cost might be: Those who aren’t covered by insurance and are getting the drug off-label may have to cough up about $1,200 to $1,500 a month.

Unknown Long-Term Effects

Since Ozempic is relatively new, there isn’t any conclusive evidence regarding its long-term impact on health. Some research suggests that you’ll regain weight once you stop using the drug, which in itself can lead to more health problems—yo-yo dieting is linked to issues such as metabolic disruption, heart disease, and musculoskeletal disorders.

The long-term effects of weight-loss pills of the past should also serve as a cautionary tale. For example, Fen-Phen (a combination of an appetite suppressant and an amphetamine) was a promising drug that led to a boom in weight-loss clinics in the 1990s. Years later, the drug was found to be linked to heart valve damage, in the worst cases leading to death. 

Should You Try It Out?

If you’re interested in trying out Ozempic for weight loss, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Only use it under medical supervision. Your doctor can help you manage side effects and ensure that you’re using the drug appropriately.

2) Get it from legitimate sources. Given the huge demand for Ozempic, there’s a proliferation of knock-offs. Don’t be tempted by Instagram ads or dealers selling the drug at cheap prices. Experts warn that you should also steer clear of generic semaglutide products, which typically combine semaglutide with other components. Though the compounded versions may come out cheaper, their safety is questionable since their exact formulation hasn’t gone through the same testing as FDA-approved versions.

3) Think twice before using it off-label. If you intend to use it off-label, keep in mind that you may be depriving those with type 2 diabetes of a drug that they need, especially given the shortage. 

What Is Ozempic for Weight Loss & Should You Try It?

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Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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