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Your Healthy Family: What to know before considering Ozempic for weight loss

Posted at 7:40 AM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 11:56:22-04

Close to 70 percent of adults in our country struggle with obesity or being overweight, and some are turning to drugs used to manage diabetes to help drop those pounds.

Doctors said there are things you need to know before you consider taking this route.

"All of these drugs cause significant weight loss," Dr. Kathleen Dungan, an Endocrinologist at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said.

She said the drug 'Semaglutide' has been the most popular lately. The FDA approved it for diabetes management in 2017 under the brand name 'Ozempic,' and for weight loss as 'Wegovy' in 2021. But Dr. Dungan said there are some downsides.

"Side effects are relatively common with this class of medications. In particular, we see gastrointestinal side effects like nausea, vomiting, we can see diarrhea or constipation," she said.

Dr. Dungan said for some people, those side effects can be managed by starting on a low dose and making dietary changes. But for others, the effects may be too much.

Because of the drug's popularity, both Ozempic and Wegovy are now on the FDA's list of drug shortages, which is making it harder for some people who take it for diabetes to fill a prescription.

Dr. Dungan said to maintain the weight loss, a patient has to stay on the drug.

"We really only have data up to a few years past the initiation of the drug, so beyond that, we don't know really how effective they are," she said.

She said people who are trying to lose weight need to still focus on lifestyle changes, like exercise and healthy eating.

She also recommends people who have diabetes work with a dietitian, their healthcare team, and a diabetes educator.