Ozempic for weight loss
Ozempic is prescribed to adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus to help lower blood glucose and A1C. Ozempic is not FDA-approved for weight loss. However, it is used off-label for weight loss in people who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk. Off-label use refers to the unapproved use of an approved drug, for example using a drug for a disease or medical condition that it is not approved to treat.
Approximately 70% of American adults are obese or overweight. Obesity and overweight are serious health conditions associated with some leading causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It is also associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Losing 5% to 10% of body weight through diet and exercise has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in adults with obesity or overweight.
What is Ozempic (semaglutide)?
Ozempic is a brand-name medication used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is a prescription injection taken once per week.
The active ingredient in Ozempic is semaglutide. Ozempic (semaglutide) belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) analogs. GLP-1 analogs increase the incretins levels, therefore they are called incretin mimetics. These drugs increase insulin levels when needed and reduce the unnecessary amounts of glucose that are produced by the liver. The benefits of GLP-1 analogs are: reducing the speed at which the stomach digests and empties (delayed gastric emptying), appetite reduction, helping lose weight, decreased cholesterol and blood pressure
Ozempic is injected once per week into the thigh, upper arm, or abdomen. Ozempic is manufactured by Novo Nordisk.
Does Ozempic cause weight loss?
Ozempic is not FDA-approved for the treatment of weight loss. However, there is some evidence that people who take Ozempic have experienced weight loss.
If you’re considering taking Ozempic for weight loss, seek medical advice from your doctor or healthcare provider about the potential risks and benefits. They can help you decide if this medication is right for you.
How does Ozempic cause weight loss?
Ozempic is a GLP-1 agonist which is the body‘s natural way of controlling blood sugar. Managing blood sugar helps to lose weight, especially when combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan. Ozempic prompts your pancreas to produce more insulin when blood glucose levels are high. It also helps prevent the liver from making and releasing too much sugar into the bloodstream. Gastric emptying (the rate at which food leaves the stomach) is slowed down. All of these functions result in weight loss.
How much weight can you lose with Ozempic?
According to the manufacturer, adults taking Ozempic lost up to 14 pounds. In the specific population studied for Ozempic, the average person lost around 8 pounds with the 0.5 mg dose, and the average person lost around 12 pounds with the 1 mg dose.
Who can take Ozempic for weight loss?
Ozempic is used to manage type 2 diabetes mellitus in adults. It also reduces the risk of severe cardiovascular events. Ozempic should not be used in adults with a history of pancreatitis, and should not be used to treat type 1 diabetes mellitus.
Ozempic can decrease appetite and many people with diabetes who use this medication will lose weight.
Ozempic is not FDA-approved for weight management. However, doctors may prescribe this medication off-label for weight management. Off-label use is defined as the prescribing of a drug for an indication other than what the drug was approved to treat by the FDA.
You should only use Ozempic as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Ask your doctor about using Ozempic for weight management.
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Ozempic alternatives for weight loss
Like Ozempic, Wegovy is a weight loss drug manufactured by Novo Nordisk and the active ingredient is semaglutide. Wegovy is a once-weekly injection and is used in combination with a healthy diet and increased physical activity to manage weight in adults with one weight-related comorbidity (ie. hypertension, dyslipidemia, or type 2 diabetes mellitus) with initial body mass index (BMI) ≥30 kg/m2 (obesity) or ≥27 kg/m2 (overweight).
The difference between Wegovy and Ozempic is the dose. The dosing for Ozempic is up to 1 mg once per week and the dosing for Wegovy is up to 2.4 mg once per week. The higher doses of Wegovy are associated with greater weight loss. In the specific population that was studied for Wegovy, the average person lost 35 pounds after 68 weeks (approximately 16 months). In contrast, in the specific population studied for Ozempic, the average person lost around 8 pounds with the 0.5 mg dose, and the average person lost around 12 pounds with the 1 mg dose.
RELATED: Wegovy vs Ozempic
Saxenda is an FDA-approved prescription injectable weight loss drug with the active ingredient liraglutide and is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. It helps people to lose weight and keep the weight off.
RELATED: Saxenda vs Ozempic
Rybelsus is a brand-name medication that is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. Rybelsus is available in tablet form and is taken by mouth once daily, with or without food. Rybelsus isn’t prescribed for weight loss, but weight loss is a possible side effect due to blood sugar management and the recommended lifestyle changes.
RELATED: Rybelsus vs Ozempic
Trulicity is a brand-name drug manufactured by Eli Lilly. It is an FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved prescription drug for adults who have type 2 diabetes. It is not approved for weight loss. Reduced appetite and thus weight loss is a possible side effect of Trulicity.
Results from a 40-week study that compared people who took Ozempic and Trulicity showed that the people who took Ozempic lost more than double the weight than with Trulicity in adults who were taking metformin in combination.
RELATED: Ozempic vs Trulicity
Victoza is a brand-name medication that is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. It is a once-daily medication prescribed to lower blood sugar and A1C. Victoza is not meant to be used specifically for weight loss, however, due to the way this drug works, it may assist adults to lose weight.
RELATED: Ozempic vs Victoza
Other diabetic medications which may cause weight loss
There are other diabetic medications that have been shown to cause weight loss. Weight loss can also be a desirable effect for people who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetic medications that may cause weight loss include:
- GLP-1 receptor agonists:
- Amylin mimetics:
- Symlin (pramlintide)
- SGLT2 inhibitors:
- DPP-4 inhibitors:
Ozempic side effects
Common side effects of Ozempic include :
- stomach pains
Serious side effects are rare but can include:
- diabetic retinopathy
- Kidney disease or kidney problems
- Serious allergic reactions.
- Increased cholesterol levels
- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- acute gallbladder disease
- Possible thyroid tumors, including cancer
Gastrointestinal adverse reactions occurred more frequently among people receiving Ozempic 2 mg (34.0%) vs Ozempic 1 mg (30.8%).
Ozempic is not right for everyone. Be sure to tell your doctor or healthcare professional about all of your medical conditions and allergies before taking this diabetes drug. Discuss with your doctor if you are on any other medications (including over-the-counter), supplements, or vitamins. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. This diabetes medication may be harmful to an unborn baby.
Ozempic drug interactions
Ozempic can interact with vitamins, drugs, or herbs that you are taking which can change the way a drug is meant to work or cause harm. It is possible that Ozempic can interact with oral medications as it affects gastric emptying which can impact the effectiveness of oral medications.
Ozempic can be added to other diabetes medications (ie Metformin, insulin sulfonylurea) but the dosage may need to be lowered since Ozempic works to lower your blood sugar levels so it is important to discuss with your doctor.
Your physician should review and manage all of your medications carefully to avoid any issues. Always discuss with your doctor about all supplements, herbs, vitamins, or medications that you take and discuss if there is a possibility of any drug interactions.
Is Ozempic used for cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease includes conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels.
Ozempic is FDA-approved to be prescribed to adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events. In a phase III clinical trial examining cardiovascular and other long-term outcomes with semaglutide in patients with type 2 diabetes, subjects were randomized to Ozempic once weekly or placebo, and results showed that Ozempic significantly reduced the risk of Major Adverse Cardiovascular Event (MACE).
If you have type 2 diabetes and are at risk for cardiovascular disease, your doctor may prescribe Ozempic to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular death.
Does Ozempic reduce blood pressure?
Ozempic is not FDA-approved to treat high blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes increases your risk of cardiovascular events and disease including high blood pressure (hypertension). Controlling your diabetes through medication and in combination with healthy eating and exercise does help to reduce that risk.
When should I take Ozempic?
Ozempic is usually taken once weekly with or without food. Your doctor will determine the best dose for you based on your medical conditions and response to treatment.
The manufacturer recommends starting at a dose of 0.25 mg once weekly. After 4 weeks, the dose of Ozempic can be increased to 0.5 mg. If needed, the dose can be increased to 1 mg once weekly after at least 4 weeks, up to a maximum of 2 mg.
If you forget to take Ozempic at the scheduled time, the missed dose can be injected within 5 days.
- Ozempic is not indicated for weight loss, but it may result in moderate weight loss for people who take this medication alone or in combination with other medications such as metformin or sulfonylurea.
- Although not approved for weight loss, Ozempic has proven in clinical trials to result in greater weight loss compared to other popular diabetes medications including Trulicity, Bydureon, Januvia, and Lantus.
- In addition to possible weight loss, Ozempic can also have a positive effect on your cardiovascular (heart) health and reduce the risk of death from heart-related conditions.
- You can speak with your doctor to find out if Ozempic can be prescribed off-label for weight management.
A medical professional has reviewed this article.
Dr. Jamie Winn received his Doctor of Pharmacy in 2002 from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Columbia, SC. Jamie is a medical reviewer for NiceRx.