Ozempic isn’t just a ‘wonder drug.’ It can also be a warning sign | CNN (2023)


“One pill makes you larger,” wrote rocker Grace Slick in lyrics made famous by 1960s band Jefferson Airplane, “and one pill makes you small.” The song “White Rabbit” riffed, in psychedelic terms, on Lewis Carroll’s 19th-century imagery in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass.” But lurking within these lines is also a most resonant 21st-century fantasy: a drug that can shrink your body.

For some, this isn’t a fantasy–or at least, it’s notjusta fantasy. Semaglutide is hardly a household name, but depending on who you ask, this injectable medicine represents a revolution, a scourge and a long-term unknown. Say the word “Ozempic” and it’s more instant recognition: This brand name of semaglutide, also sold under the name Wegovy, in addition to treating type 2 diabetes, is now synonymous with weight loss.

Semaglutide is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for weight loss only under the brand name Wegovy, butthe off-label useof other brands, Ozempic among them, has become increasingly common.(The most common side effectsof the drug include headaches and gastrointestinal issues.)

For many Americans who have struggled for years with their weight and associated health problems, semaglutide has been an effective means of treating obesity – as long as they remain on the drug. Studies showthat most patients who stop taking the drug gain the weight back.Meanwhile, thecultural ubiquity of Ozempic and Wegovy as diet aids has spawned celebrity testimonials and thinkpieces galore.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, in recent weeks and months, medical and scientific authorities have also indicated that next-generation drugs are now in development that may be easier and more convenient to use and have even greater capacity to induce weight loss. AsCNN recently reported, according to research from financial firm TD Cowen, nearly two dozen experimental drugs are now being designed to be taken as pills for obesity and related conditions.

Not just one drug that makes you small, then, but many?

Formany patients andphysicians, this expected surge of drugs is good news – in part because the Ozempic craze has made it more difficult for people with diabetes who need the drug to access it. But for many doctors, semaglutide is becoming increasingly important for treating obesity, so having more drugs that induce weight loss is a net positive.

That’s not so for many other observers, including journalist Virginia Sole-Smith, author of the recent book “Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture,”who has reported for years on health, nutrition, fitness and beauty culture for the New York Times and other outlets (her first book, “The Eating Instinct,” was about how to deal with mixed cultural messages about food and our bodies).For Sole-Smith and others, proponents of Ozempic and drugs like it are missing the big picture: the diet culture that brands certain bodies acceptable, beautiful, healthy or worth seeing and relegates other bodies to the corners marked “diseased,” “ugly,” “lazy” or “just doesn’t care enough about being healthy.”

When considered in this context, Ozempic isn’t a wonder drug. Itspopularity isamanifestation of a dangerous and pervasive message. In her book, Sole-Smith interviewed65 parents and 45 kids from the US and Canada, along with 80 researchers, doctors, therapists, activists and thinkers.

The harm in the popularization of Ozempic lies not only in its impact on otherwise healthy bodies but also in the mentality that accompanies weight loss culture, she says. If we misguidedly assume that bodies are capable of becomingthin — and remaining thin — we give ourselves permission to castigate fat bodies for simply existing in their natural state, notes Sole-Smith. As she put it to us: “If we can make fat people thin, does that make it OK to hate fat people?”

Ozempic isn’t just a ‘wonder drug.’ It can also be a warning sign | CNN (1)
(Video) Ozempic is a game-changer. Here’s how it works.

This cultural permission to demonize fatness has devastating consequences, medically and otherwise.Revised obesity guidelinesfrom the American Academy of Pediatrics that endorsed weight-loss surgery and medication in some casesprompted controversyearlier this year.New research shows that weight-loss surgeryis becoming more commonfor children and young people. At the same time, themyth of willpower – that if we only put our minds to it, we could all be thin – is baked into society and dominates so many obesity discussions in the United States, but it stands counter to a body of scientific and anecdotal evidence that our bodies prefer to exist at a biologically predetermined weight, said Sole-Smith.

This “set point theory” helps us to understand why weight is often impossible to keep off. When we change our lifestyles to maximize weight loss, our bodies respond by attempting to remain at their set point weights. And as soon as we let up on diet, exercise or weight loss drugs, we usually see our bodies return to their original form.This is true, too, for weight loss drugs, making it hard to stop taking them without gaining the weight right back.

“This is not a bug; this is a feature,” says Sole-Smith. “This is what enabled us to survive famines, to survive lean times when food was scarce. When you start to diet, your body does not understand. Your body says, ‘There’s food scarcity. I have to protect this body.’ And so your metabolism slows down, your hunger hormones increase and a number of other systems in your body kind of kick into gear to protect you.”

Medical institutions, for their part, have played a significant role in promoting a culture in which dieting is the norm and weight loss drugs are sought after. Though medical science has long pathologized fatness, it formalized a narrow definition of “healthy weight”through the adoption of the body mass index (BMI) in the 1970s. BMI uses only height and weight to determine where an individual falls on a spectrum from underweight to obese and has been heavily criticized for the crudeness of its measurement, failing to distinguish between fat, bone and muscle mass.

“If you get on the scale and the doctor calculates your BMI, that number then dictates the whole rest of your appointment. That number will guide the doctor’s recommendations, but we know that number tells us very little about our health,” says Sole-Smith.Research has also shown that BMI is an especially flawed and problematic metric for people of color. And yet, it remains ubiquitous in most doctors’ offices.

As Sole-Smith writes in “Fat Talk,” unlearning our society’s unswerving fealty to the importance of thinness “means deciding that thin bodies and fat bodies have equal value. To do this, you have to know that humans have always come in a variety of sizes; that body diversity is both beautiful and necessary. You have to believe that being fat isn’t a bad thing. And that means you have to challenge a lot of what you thought you knew about health, beauty and morality.”

With all that at stake, it’s no wonder that so many of us would find a weekly injection an infinitely easier proposition. So, if you’re a health-conscious adult or a parent trying to raise a healthy child, what does living in the age of Ozempic mean? CNN Opinion spoke with Sole-Smith about Ozempic, diet culture and how to begin to answer these questions in a new way.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

CNN Opinion:Can you explain what diet culture and anti-fat bias are and how they manifest in everyday life and in popular culture?

Virginia Sole-Smith:Dietculture is all the messages that we get about how our bodies are supposed to be – how we’re supposed to eat, move, take care of our bodies. And it has lots of different sources: media, social media, doctors, government, public health messaging and so on. It’s also created within families.

And then underpinning diet culture is anti-fat bias: the belief that bigger bodies are less valuable, less healthy, less beautiful, less everything than thinner bodies. It shows up in terms of the cultural messaging that we get around food. But it also manifests in very real ways. People in larger bodies tend to earn less money than thinner folks. We’vegot research on teachers’ attitudes towards fat students in school showing that they think they’re less intelligent, less social. It’s all these negative stereotypes about fat people that then translate to the way we treat fat people in every realm of society.

CNN:How do you see Ozempic affecting or changing diet culture and how we as a society perceive or talk about our bodies?

Sole-Smith: In some ways, this isn’t new. I think we’ve been here before with other weight loss drugs, but Ozempic is definitely turning up the volume.

A low-angle view of a young woman who is weighing herself in a weighing scale Karl Tapales/Moment RF/Getty Images Experimental drugs aim to surpass weight-loss stars like Ozempic and Wegovy

We all know diets don’t work. That message is out there already. Even diet companies always say they’re not a diet, because diets don’t work. We know they have areally high failure rate.

(Video) The Ozempic Injection: A Warning You Shouldn't Ignore.

If we think of fatness as something we can change, it becomes culturally more OK to no longer want to be fat or to feel negatively toward fat people. And this is what I think isreally scary. Number one, it’s extremely unlikely that Ozempic is going to be the silver bullet for everybody. Not everybody is going to lose dramatic amounts of weight on it. Number two, it’s very expensive.So this “fixing fatness” is only going to be available to people who can afford it.(A 30-day course of semaglutide for weight losscosts over $800 in the US.)

You’re going tosee a whole class stratification around this. And there’s something really, really dark about the idea that we can just change people’s bodies and not deal with the bias that we have toward those bodies.

CNN:You’ve been studying and writing about food and body image for a number of years. How does this current moment in culture and society, in your estimation, compare with previous ones? Where are we right now on this issue?

Sole-Smith:We’re in a kind of a messy middle space. When I was a teenager in the 1990s, diet culture was very loud. This was the eraof Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears – a very clear ideal: thin, low-rise jeans, all of that. It felt like there was no alternative path available for young women in that generation.

Now, we have seen fat activism and body positivity getting more attention. And this is one of the good things about places like Instagram and TikTok: They have given rise to more body-positive folks and have allowed their voices to be amplified.

But with that progress definitely comes a backlash. And I think Ozempic is a big part of that backlash. We’re talking about billion-dollar industries here. No one is going to say: “You’re right. We’ve been so mean to people. Let’s change our tune.” No, they’re constantly repackaging and finding new ways to sell us the same things.

CNN:How do you see the popularization of weight-loss drugsimpacting the body image of adults and of particularly young people, who are taking in these messages at such a young age?

Sole-Smith:I mean, this is the really scary thing, right? Ozempic is going to be prescribed by doctors. I think parents feelmore comfortable telling kids, “Don’t listen to that YouTuber. Don’t listen to that beauty influencer.” Thoseare so obviously sources of toxic body messaging that we can identify. But when it comes from health care providers, it’s so much more complicated, because these are people we should be able to trust. These are people who should have our best interest front and center. And yet the medical profession is not a profession that has done a very good job of grappling with their endemic anti-fat bias.

I can tell you when I interview people about their eating disorder histories or relationships with their bodies, one of the most common origin stories is a comment their pediatrician made about their body and about their weight. So doctors are doing real harm. And I think it’s much tougher to unhear a comment coming from a source like that than it is to sort of step back from a celebrity.

CNN: You write in the book that bodies by definition are ever-changing. How does internalizing that message change the conversation?

Sole-Smith:I think about thata lot. I was a thin kid, and I live in what I describe as a “small fat” body as an adult. I remember when I realized I wasn’t going to be thin for my whole life. I felt like I had failed myself in some profound way. Like I had abandoned who I really was, when in fact this is just what my adult body is. I’m still the same person. I still have the same identity and talents and flaws. Butbecause we’ve been sold this myth of this idea that our bodies should be a fixed point in time, that’s what leads us to attach our self-worth and our identity to our body size.

Ozempic prescriptions can be easy to get online. Its popularity for weight loss is hurting those who need it most

I worry about this a lot with kids. I worry for kids in bigger bodies who are being told from such a young age, “your body’s a problem. You have to fix it.” That fix is probably not something that’s attainable or sustainable or safe for them and is going to raise their risk for eating disorders and other issues. And if you’re telling thin kids, “Your body is your value; you have a runner’s body; you have a dancer’s body,” well, guess what? They’re going go through puberty. They’re going to age and grow up. Maybe they’re going to have a baby. Their bodies aren’t always going to be 12. And that’s a good thing.

If we could embrace the idea of bodies changing as a given – as something to celebrate – it would really make it easier to step back from all this pressure.

(Video) Doctor: Berberine has merit, but isn’t miracle weight loss drug | CUOMO

CNN: Does prescribing weight loss drugs even to people who aren’t overweight reinforce the presumption that being thin is healthier than being fat? You point out in your book that fatness isn’t inherently unhealthy or a disease. What are the risks of conflating thinness with health?

Sole-Smith:We’ve beenpathologizing fat bodiesfor decades now, and we’re seeing the harm of that for sure.

So many studies start out with an accepted premise that being fat is unhealthy and then go from there with whatever question they’re researching when the reality is that we only have correlation showing relationships between weight and health. We don’t have causation in any studies. And when we look at those correlations, very often they’re mitigated by other social determinants of health, such asexperiences of weight stigma. We know weight stigma can be a driver of poor health outcomes because your doctor might not give you the same level of treatment they give a thin person. They might be less likely to refer you for tests. They might take you less seriously. They might not listen to your pain.

All of that has pretty concrete outcomes on people’s health. And it also means that people are more likely to avoid going to the doctor. So then when they finally do go, they’re sicker when they get there, and then that reinforces the whole stereotype.

Ozempic isn’t just a ‘wonder drug.’ It can also be a warning sign | CNN (4)

I think making obesity a disease, which theAmerican Medical Association did in 2013, had somegood intentions behind it. I think they thought it was a way of combating the willpower myth and helping people understand that body size is not a choice or something that people have as much control over as we think. But it feels like all it really did was givepeople another reason to stigmatize fat bodies.

Imagine if you go to the doctor’s office and they don’t have a blood pressure cuff that fits your arm, they don’t have an exam table that’s big enough for you. They don’t have a gown that fits you. They don’t have chairs in the waiting room you can sit in. All of that is telling you that your health is not valuable to the system. If considering obesity a disease was really about promoting the health of fat people, you would have systemic changes to health care so that fat people’s bodies were safe and welcome in those settings. And that’s just absolutelynot the case.

CNN:Therehas been a cultural push to embrace all types of bodies such as clothing and beauty brands hiring models with a wide range of body types and celebrities posting unretouched photos. How do we reconcile that effort with the rise of Ozempic? Did body positivity fail?

Sole-Smith:I think the body positivity effort has been pretty strong and successful in a lot of ways. And I think the diet industry and the weight loss drug industry are all paying attention and realizing that they need to come back with bigger weapons. So I think that’s what we’re seeing.

I think the other piece of it where body positivity has failed or at least has not yet succeeded is the rhetoric. “You just need to let yourself be, embrace your cellulite, it’s fine. Just be you.”

But we’re talking about systemic bias. So I can love my body in my house all I want, but when I go to the doctor or out on the street, I’m still going toexperience weight discrimination. So working on the personal issues is important, and people’s personal struggles are valid, and they deserve support for them. But if we’re not also thinking about this as a systemic social issue to address, we’re not making enough progress. We’re not actually undoing systems that are perpetuating the bias, and that’s what’s allowing things like Ozempic to continue to flourish.

CNN:We wanted to ask you about terminology and specifically the binaries that organize how we talk about bodies – thin versus fat, or in medical terms, healthy versus overweight – and how the concept of BMI contributes to what labeling. Can you talk about overreliance on BMI for a minute?

Sole-Smith:BMI is trash. That’s the bottom line. It’s useful inlarge-scale population tracking, but unless you’re an epidemiologist, it’s not a useful tool for you. And bringing it into clinical health care settings, I think, is one of the biggest failings of the last 40 or 50 years.

A Jenny Craig weight loss store on April 28, 2023 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that the Jenny Craig company will undergo potential mass layoffs as it begins a hunt for a buyer. Joe Raedle/Getty Images Jenny Craig is reportedly winding down its weight-loss centers and warning of mass layoffs
(Video) Diabetes Drug Ozempic Trends On TikTok As Weight-Loss Drug

In many cases, BMI is the first thing they calculate when you go into the doctor’s office. That number then dictates the rest of your appointment. But we know that number is telling usvery little about our health.

It also gets used in really dangerous ways;lots of different health care specialties use BMI cutoffs.So, for example, at fertility clinics if you’re over a certain BMI, they often won’t give you infertility treatment. To use BMI as a weapon in this way against fat patients causes so much harm. Getting BMI out of American health care would be an enormous victory.

CNN:The popularity of weight loss drugs is skyrocketing at a moment when 1 in 5 kids worldwide are showing signs of an eating disorder and there are a lot of post-pandemic concerns about kids’ mental health.

Sole-Smith:It’s been really disheartening to me to see that we are only now having the conversation about kids’ mental health. But the conversation we had first was about pandemic weight gain and all the hand-wringing about kids getting fatter because of the pandemic. Yeah, people’s bodieschanged during the pandemic, people’s activity levels changed, we were experiencing trauma, and we know there’s a relationship between trauma and weight gain.

Even now that the mental health conversation is happening more, it seems like there’s still this focus of, like, “Well let’s get kids more active, and let’s get kids off screens.” And it’s not like “Let’s sit and help kids process the trauma of the last few years. Let’s help them grieve for what they lost, the experiences they lost. Let’s give them tools to talk about their feelings.”

CNN:Meghan McCain reported being offered Ozempic as a kind of postpartum fix. Can you talk about the intersections between diet culture and beauty culture, especially for women? There’s the narrative of getting your body back or the “mommy makeover,” even beautification filters on TikTok. Will we ever accept women’s bodies especially as ever-changing? What do we need to do to get there?

Sole-Smith:I think for women, and mothers in particular, it’s really tied to a societal change in terms of how we value caregiving and parenting. We still operate from this perspective that being a mother is a woman’s most important contribution to society – but also something you should do invisibly and that should not impact your ability to have a hard-charging career or result in a messy house.

I think if we were a culture that valued caregiving and motherhood in a different way, in a more actually supportive way, we would celebrate the body changes, right? There would be no need to still look five years, 10 years younger and like you never gave birth. You wouldn’t be paying a price for looking like you “let yourself go” for aging, for gaining weight. It wouldn’t work against you in job interviews. It wouldn’t work against you if you’re dating again. It wouldn’t be this albatross around your neck like feels to a lot of us now.

I don’t blame any individual women for pursuing the cultural standard of beauty, because it often feels like a necessary survival strategy in our culture. That just is the reality. You have to play this game that someone else rigged, and maybe you have to do what you have to do. But that being said, I think to whatever extent we can, maybe the first step is being more honest.To say: I’m doing this as a survival strategy. I’m not doing this because I’m going to be so happy and feel so much more fulfilled if I’m a size six.

CNN:Speaking of survival strategies, we were wondering if you have any advice for people who are going to continue to engage on social media platforms but don’t want to take in or inadvertently amplify content with an anti-fat bias.

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Sole-Smith:You can’t recast a Netflix show to have fat actors if they’ve put all skinny people in it. But you can go on your Instagram feed and unfollow any account that promotes diet culture, that perpetuates anti-fat bias, that makes you feel icky about yourself in any way. And you can actively seek out body diversity inanything you’re interested in. I follow fat rock climbers, fat figure skaters, fat dancers. You can find people doingwhatever passion you have in non-traditional bodies.I think it can be a force for good in that sense. I’m not a proponent of taking social media away completely. I am a proponent of delaying how old kids are when they get on. Because we know that once you open up this can of worms, there’s no going back.

I talked to parents in the book who had pretty relaxed approaches to screen time. But they were talking to their kids about what they were doing, and their kids were saying, “Hey, look at this TikTok. This is so fatphobic.” And so then it became this great opportunity to, you know, to actually help kids question for themselves what they’re seeing.

CNN:Do you have thoughts about how to change the stigma around language? Is that a big piece of changing anti-fat bias?

Sole-Smith:I absolutely do, and I recognize this is a really difficult one for people. If the word “fat” has been weaponized against you – if you were teased for being fat as a kid – it feels really hard to say “fat” in a neutral way. I think often Ihave been able to reclaim it because I was a thin kid who became a fat adult. But I have found it to be absolutely revolutionary in my own relationship with my body and in my own parenting.

(Video) The new “miracle” weight loss drug - Ozempic explained

This is one aspect of me, this does not totally define me. It’s like saying I have brown hair or I wear glasses. It makes fat no longer the sort of evil thing to be avoided, because it’s just a fact about you. So it can be really liberating, but it is hard to do, and I think it’s important, that you can’t reclaim it for other people. If someone else is not comfortable identifying as fat, it is not your place to call them that.


What are the warning signs of Ozempic? ›

Stop using Ozempic® and get medical help right away if you have any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat; problems breathing or swallowing; severe rash or itching; fainting or feeling dizzy; or very rapid heartbeat.

What are the dangers of taking Ozempic? ›

Ozempic® may cause serious side effects, including:
  • inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis). ...
  • changes in vision. ...
  • low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). ...
  • kidney problems (kidney failure). ...
  • serious allergic reactions. ...
  • gallbladder problems.

Is there a black box warning on Ozempic? ›

The Ozempic drug label comes with the following Black Box Warning: RISK OF THYROID C−CELL TUMORS. In rodents, semaglutide causes thyroid C-cell tumors.

What are the long term side effects of Ozempic? ›

Potential long term side effects of Ozempic include thyroid tumors, acute pancreatitis, and retinopathy complications. If you're concerned about the potential long term side effects of Ozempic or are looking for other diabetes management options, Nao Medical can help.

Is Ozempic a high risk medication? ›

This drug has a boxed warning about possible risk of thyroid cancer. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous. In animals, Ozempic can increase the risk of thyroid tumors.

What foods to avoid on Ozempic? ›

Which foods should you avoid while taking Ozempic?
  • Foods that are high in fat. Foods that are high in fat can worsen Ozempic side effects. ...
  • Sugary foods and drinks. If you have diabetes, you know how important it is to limit sugary foods and beverages. ...
  • Ultra-processed carbohydrates. ...
  • Starchy vegetables. ...
  • Alcohol.
Jun 1, 2023

Who should not use Ozempic? ›

Do not use Ozempic® if you or any of your family have ever had MTC, or if you have an endocrine system condition called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).

How long can you safely stay on Ozempic? ›

How Long Can You Stay on Ozempic (semaglutide)? A person can stay on Ozempic® so long as they are tolerating the medication and it is deemed appropriate by their treating provider. There is no specific time frame when someone should stop taking Ozempic as it is a medication that is intended for chronic (long-term) use.

What happens if you eat sugar while taking Ozempic? ›

High fat foods or sugary foods

Ozempic can cause nausea and vomiting if taken after eating foods high in fat or sugar. It is recommended that you take Ozempic before meals, rather than after, to minimise any potential side effects from eating high-fat or high-sugar foods.

What organ does Ozempic affect? ›

Drugs such as Ozempic have caused new or worsening kidney disease, including kidney failure, in some people. If you become dehydrated from other side effects of Ozempic, such as vomiting or diarrhea, this could also cause kidney problems. Your doctor may monitor your kidney health closely during your Ozempic treatment.

Is there a lawsuit for Ozempic side effects? ›

The Ozempic lawsuits claim Ozempic semaglutide injections can cause acute gallbladder disease. Our law firm is investigating cases where individuals have developed acute gallbladder disease after using Ozempic—especially at higher doses, for longer durations, and for weight loss.

Is taking Ozempic for weight loss safe? ›

Is Ozempic safe for weight loss? Ozempic isn't technically a weight loss medication. But it's considered safe and effective for Type 2 diabetes, and you may lose weight as a side effect of treatment. If you're prescribed Ozempic and you don't have diabetes, this is considered off-label use.

What happens when you stop taking Ozempic suddenly? ›

Ozempic stimulates the release of insulin and lowers blood sugar. When you abruptly stop using it, the amount of glucose in your body can spike, especially if you have diabetes. Some may end up in the ER due to sheer exhaustion from the blood sugar spikes and crashes.

Can you stop Ozempic cold turkey? ›

For most people, stopping Ozempic cold turkey is not recommended. When to stop Ozempic is an individual decision you should come to with the help of your healthcare provider. If your health provider agrees it's time to stop taking Ozempic, they will provide you with instructions for tapering off your dose.

Can you be on Ozempic for years? ›

Experts said they consider Ozempic and Wegovy to be lifelong medications.

Is Ozempic worse than metformin? ›

Is metformin safer than Ozempic? Metformin is often considered to be among the safest and most studied drugs for helping people to manage their blood sugar. While metformin has been been in common use longer than Ozempic, each drug has undergone extensive, rigorous testing.

What does Ozempic do to your face? ›

“Ozempic face” is a term for common side effects of the type 2 diabetes medication semaglutide (Ozempic). It can cause sagging and aging of facial skin. A doctor may recommend lifestyle modifications or facial fillers to treat these effects.

What drug is better than Ozempic? ›

Mounjaro has been studied head-to-head against Ozempic. After 40 weeks, people taking it saw a better reduction in hemoglobin A1C levels (average blood sugar over 3 months) compared to Ozempic. And they lost more weight, too. Mounjaro is only approved to treat Type 2 diabetes for now.

Does Ozempic cause hair loss? ›

Hair loss was not reported as a side effect in clinical trials of Ozempic for type 2 diabetes. In a clinical trial of tirzepatide for weight loss in obesity, 5.7% of patients taking the highest dose (a 15-milligram once-weekly injection) reported hair loss compared to 1% of those who got a placebo.

What happens if you take Ozempic and don't eat? ›

If people are unable to eat enough while on the drug, he decreases the dose or tells them to stop taking the medication altogether. No standard nutritional guidelines have yet been established for patients taking Ozempic or other medications that work similarly, like Wegovy and Mounjaro.

Should you drink lots of water on Ozempic? ›

You may also notice fatigue or swelling. Kidney injury is more common in people who experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration that can occur due to these side effects. If you experience these side effects while taking Ozempic, be sure to drink lots of fluids to rehydrate yourself.

Will Ozempic reduce belly fat? ›

Will Ozempic or Wegovy reduce belly fat? The answer appears to be yes. That Novo Nordisk-funded study of almost 2,000 overweight or obese adults without diabetes also found their visceral fat — the type that accumulates in the belly — was reduced from baseline with semaglutide, along with their total fat mass.

Do you regain weight after stopping Ozempic? ›

Some individuals may actually gain more weight after stopping an obesity drug than they initially lost, Conde-Knape added. Studies have similarly shown weight rebound in people who stop taking Ozempic.

How much weight can you lose on Ozempic in a month? ›

So, on average, with the recommended starting Ozempic dose of 0.25 mg, a 500 to 1000 calorie reduced diet, and exercise 3 times a week, you can expect to lose 3-5 pounds in the first month of treatment, which works out to about 3% of body weight for most overweight or obese individuals.

What celebrities are using Ozempic to lose weight? ›

Elon Musk and Chelsea Handler are among the few big names who have admitted to using the drug for weight loss, though Handler said she stopped using it after learning it was intended for those with diabetes. But experts say most celebrities who use Ozempic are likely keeping their lips sealed.

How quickly do you lose weight on Ozempic? ›

Once you begin using Ozempic, some people can find it takes several weeks to see any weight loss, yet others may see some weight loss within a week or 2. While it can be difficult, try to remain patient — change looks different for everyone.

How long does it take for Ozempic to suppress appetite? ›

You'll likely notice some changes in appetite and reductions in food cravings within the first week.

What happens if you eat carbs on Ozempic? ›

Refined carbohydrates

This can make it harder to manage blood sugar levels in people both with and without diabetes. These types of foods are typically lacking fiber, which can send blood sugar levels soaring. It is best to avoid refined carbohydrates if you're taking Ozempic.

Can I drink coffee on Ozempic? ›

The general guidance is that it's best to limit consumption to no more than one cup of coffee per day when taking Ozempic®—but listen to your body and, most importantly, stay hydrated.

How do I maximize my weight loss on Ozempic? ›

How can I maximise my body weight loss on Ozempic? You can assist Ozempic by lowering your overall calorie intake, moving your body where possible and limiting your alcohol consumption.

Can Ozempic damage your stomach? ›

Ozempic can cause other digestive side effects, such as gas, burping, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. These side effects may affect your belly pain. Belly pain can also be a symptom of pancreatitis (inflammation of your pancreas). This is a rare but serious side effect of Ozempic.

Does Ozempic make you pee more? ›

Ozempic may not increase your urination but can alter your urine output depending on your health condition. People with hyperglycemia experience an urge for high thirst and frequent urination. Ozempic helps reduce symptoms related to kidney disease.

Is it safe to take Ozempic if you are not diabetic? ›

Ozempic is a type 2 diabetes medication which is prescribed to manage blood glucose levels. It is not a medication for people who do not have diabetes or are at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Why won't insurance pay for Ozempic? ›

That said, when Ozempic is prescribed off-label for weight loss, it is often not covered by insurance. Why? Because the Affordable Care Act doesn't mandate that health insurers cover obesity or overweight medications or surgeries.

What are patient complaints about Ozempic? ›

Soon after I started Ozempic I had decreased apetitite and my sugars improved, but I had reflux, gas, bloating, nausea and diarrhea. After 4 weeks I started . 50. 2 weeks in I have bouts of painful constipation then diarrhea, nausea, bloating, gas, reflux and cramping.

Is Ozempic safe for kidneys? ›

There is a potential risk of kidney injury associated with both Wegovy and Ozempic use since semaglutide is cleared out of your blood through the kidneys.

What is the cost of Ozempic without insurance? ›

If you qualify for insurance coverage, Ozempic can cost as little as $25 for a monthly supply. However, without insurance, Ozempic costs around $892.06 per month, on average (NovoCare-a, 2022).

Does Ozempic cause permanent weight loss? ›

What happens when you stop taking Ozempic? Weight loss caused by GLP-1 agonist drugs is not always permanent. In clinical trials, people who stopped taking semaglutide regained the majority of their prior weight loss within a year.

Is Ozempic meant to be taken long-term? ›

“GLP-1 medications [like Ozempic] are designed to be taken long-term,” explains Dr. McGowan. “They are chronic medications for the treatment of chronic conditions (both diabetes and obesity).”

What happens if you use Ozempic every day? ›

Takeaways. Ozempic is a long-term medication used to control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. It is a once-weekly injection using a prefilled Ozempic pen. If you take too much Ozempic, you could develop severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

What is the biggest side effect of Ozempic? ›

The most common side effects with Ozempic include stomach problems like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and constipation. These tend to be mild-to-moderate and usually clear up in a few weeks in most people.

How long does fatigue last with Ozempic? ›

It may last for a few weeks while your body gets used to the medication and while your dose is increasing. Fatigue may be caused by other factors, however, so how long it lasts can vary. Lower your sleep debt and get in sync with your circadian rhythm to boost your energy levels.

What medications should not be taken with Ozempic? ›

Ozempic can interact with insulin and other insulin-releasing medications, like sulfonylureas and glinides. It may also potentially affect how you absorb medications you take by mouth.

What should I monitor when taking Ozempic? ›

Monitor renal function when initiating or escalating doses of OZEMPIC in patients reporting severe adverse gastrointestinal reactions. Serious hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., anaphylaxis, angioedema) have been reported with GLP-1 receptor agonists.

What are the signs of pancreatitis with Ozempic? ›

Stomach pain. Taste changes or loss of appetite. Tiredness. Reactions to the injection site, including redness, discoloration, or discomfort.

What happens if you stop taking Ozempic suddenly? ›

Ozempic stimulates the release of insulin and lowers blood sugar. When you abruptly stop using it, the amount of glucose in your body can spike, especially if you have diabetes. Some may end up in the ER due to sheer exhaustion from the blood sugar spikes and crashes.

How long can you stay on Ozempic? ›

A person can stay on Ozempic® so long as they are tolerating the medication and it is deemed appropriate by their treating provider. There is no specific time frame when someone should stop taking Ozempic as it is a medication that is intended for chronic (long-term) use.

What does Ozempic do if not diabetic? ›

In short, there is nothing inherently dangerous about taking Ozempic if you do not have diabetes (it does not work like insulin, which can be deadly if someone without diabetes takes it), but there is no final say on whether it is safe or not. You should be aware of the risks and side effects and act accordingly.

When should Ozempic be stopped? ›

Stop using Ozempic® and call your health care provider right away if you have severe pain in your stomach area (abdomen) that will not go away, with or without vomiting. You may feel the pain from your abdomen to your back.

Can you take Ozempic forever for weight loss? ›

If you take Wegovy or Ozempic to lose weight, will you need to keep taking the drugs indefinitely? Yes. As with many chronic conditions, most people who use the drugs for diabetes or weight loss will need to keep taking them to keep benefiting from them.


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