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Ozempic for Weight Loss

Ozempic’s active ingredient, semaglutide, works for weight loss although the FDA has only approved it for Type 2 diabetes. It helps people feel full, so they eat less. Patients have reported gastrointestinal side effects, including severe gastroparesis and vomiting.

Last Modified: October 26, 2023
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Does Ozempic Work for Weight Loss?

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved Ozempic for weight loss, studies have shown it is effective at helping people lose weight. Semaglutide, Ozempic’s active ingredient, has been shown to help a person lose about 15% of their body weight, according to Novo Nordisk’s research published in The Lancet. When people take Ozempic to treat Type 2 diabetes, weight loss is one of its side effects.

Ozempic mimics the GLP-1 hormone that is released into the gastrointestinal tract when a person eats. GLP-1 prompts the body to release more insulin to help reduce blood sugar. It also signals a feeling of fullness and appetite reduction in the brain, which may cause people to eat less.

“Semaglutide is clinically effective for weight loss at 3 and 6 months for people with overweight or obesity.” ”

Novo Nordisk manufactures another semaglutide-containing drug called Wegovy, which is FDA-approved for weight loss. The high demand for Wegovy led to a shortage of the drug, and this has led to weight loss patients turning to Ozempic. Some patients who take Ozempic for Type 2 diabetes may be affected by the shortage. 

Wegovy and Ozempic work the same way. Both are drugs that are injected into the body once a week, but Ozempic has a smaller dose of semaglutide than Wegovy.

How Long Will It Take to Lose Weight on Ozempic?

It may take a few weeks to lose weight on Ozempic. In Novo Nordisk’s clinical trials, study participants with Type 2 diabetes lost an average of 14 pounds in 40 weeks while taking the 2 mg dose of Ozempic. People who took 1 mg of Ozempic lost an average of 12.5 pounds.

In another study published in JAMA Network Open, researchers looked at how semaglutide worked for weight loss in overweight or obese patients with and without Type 2 diabetes. On average, people lost 5.9% of their body weight at three months and 10.9% at six months.

The range of weight loss ranges from 5% to 20% or more in the JAMA study. People with Type 2 diabetes lost less weight than people without Type 2 diabetes. According to experts, Ozempic is more effective for weight loss and blood sugar control when used along with lifestyle changes and exercise.

Benefits of Taking Ozempic for Weight Loss

The benefits of taking Ozempic for weight loss in people who are overweight or obese include lowering risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, improving insulin resistance and normalizing blood sugar levels. Some people may have difficulty losing weight with diet and exercise alone, and Ozempic may help these people reach their weight loss goals.

Losing weight with Ozempic may reduce the risk of obesity-related health problems such as:
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes

Studies have shown just a small reduction in weight can reduce the risk for many obesity-related illnesses. For example, a weight loss of just 5% to 10% improves cholesterol and blood pressure, according to a study published in Current Obesity Reports. Weight loss of about 10% to 15% may help improve obstructive sleep apnea.

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Side Effects Linked to Using Ozempic for Weight Loss

The most common Ozempic side effects include nausea, abdominal discomfort and vomiting. Most of these side effects are mild and may go away after a person’s body adjusts to the medication.

However, some patients have complained of more serious side effects such as gastroparesis, also known as stomach paralysis. Gastroparesis is a disorder that slows or stops food from moving from the stomach into the small intestine. Food that sits too long in the stomach can harden and cause blockages.

Symptoms of gastroparesis include:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acid reflux
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Feeling full very quickly
  • Fluctuations in blood sugar
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Spitting up whole food undigested
  • Vomiting

One patient who took Ozempic and Mounjaro, another GLP-1 Type 2 diabetes drug, experienced severe gastroparesis and subsequently filed an Ozempic and Mounjaro lawsuit. Jaclyn Bjorklund’s lawyer, Paul Pennock with Morgan & Morgan, said the firm had at least 500 more clients who filed Ozempic lawsuits against Novo Nordisk and other GLP-1 drugmakers.

Bjorklund had several emergency room visits and was hospitalized for severe vomiting and gastroparesis. She now must take medications to control her vomiting.

According to the lawsuit, drugmakers failed to warn the public of the risk of gastroparesis. Ozempic’s drug label warns of delayed gastric emptying, but it doesn’t mention severe gastroparesis.

Should I Take Ozempic if I Want to Lose Weight?

If the benefits of losing weight outweigh the health risks of Ozempic, you may want to ask your doctor if taking Ozempic is right for you. Ozempic isn’t approved for weight loss in people without Type 2 diabetes, but doctors can prescribe it off label for this use if you qualify to take it.

You may benefit from taking Ozempic for weight loss if you have:
  • A body mass index of 30 or greater
  • A body mass index of 27 with other health problems that may improve with weight loss

If you have a history of pancreatitis, are pregnant, have kidney disease or have an increased risk of thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2) syndrome, you shouldn’t take Ozempic. 

Because people with Type 2 diabetes depend on Ozempic, experts currently recommend taking Wegovy instead. Wegovy contains the same active ingredient as Ozempic and is already FDA-approved for weight loss.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.