Ozempic is a medication that has its origins in the quest to advance diabetes treatment, and was approved by the FDA to help lower blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 diabetes.
Developed to address the growing need for more effective and convenient therapies for managing type 2 diabetes, Ozempic features the active ingredient semaglutide, which belongs to the GLP-1 receptor agonist class of drugs. These agonists mimic the action of a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, making Ozempic a valuable tool in helping patients with diabetes achieve better glycaemic control, reduce the risk of complications, and improve their overall quality of life. Beyond its original diabetes-focused purpose, Ozempic has also found applications in weight management, as it has been shown to promote weight loss in individuals struggling with obesity (note that it has not been approved by the FDA for chronic weight management, but another brand called Wegovy has). In the UK (as well as many other countries), obesity is a pressing health concern with approximately 63% of adults being overweight or obese.
The drug has become increasingly popular for weight loss in the last year, particularly in the celebrity space, with many people buying the drug online and self-prescribing.
The benefits of Ozempic
Blood Sugar Control: Ozempic's primary purpose is to regulate blood sugar levels, which can be a valuable tool for individuals with type 2 diabetes in managing their condition.
Weight Loss: Clinical trials have demonstrated effectiveness in helping individuals lose weight.
Cardiovascular Benefits: Recent studies suggest that Ozempic may also provide cardiovascular benefits, reducing the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events. This is especially important for people with diabetes, who are more susceptible to heart-related issues.
Convenience: Ozempic is administered by injection once a week, offering a convenient treatment option for individuals who prefer less frequent medication regimens, potentially improving adherence.
Ozempic is not safe for everyone. According to the company, people with the following conditions should avoid using Ozempic:
Type 1 diabetes
Under 18 years of age
Pregnant or breastfeeding
Problems with the pancreas or kidneys
Family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), an endocrine system condition
The Cons of Ozempic
Ozempic, like any medication, has its drawbacks, with potential side effects including:
Gastrointestinal Side Effects: Some users may experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea as side effects. The US Food and Drug Association recently announced an update to Ozempic’s label to acknowledge reports of blocked intestines in some people using the medication, which can be life threatening. Some people who use Ozempic have also reported developing a condition called gastroparesis, or stomach paralysis.
Thyroid tumours or cancer
Injection Site Reactions
Malnutrition (because of how little nutrients are consumed)
The Unknowns of Ozempic
It's important to recognise that Ozempic, while beneficial for its intended purpose, also has some unknown aspects:
Long-Term Effects: The long-term effects of Ozempic on individuals who use it for an extended period are still being studied. Sharon Osbourne stopped taking Ozempic because she lost too much weight and has said she feels that younger people should stay away from the drug.
Individual Variability: People may respond differently to Ozempic, experiencing varying side effects and weight loss outcomes.
Withdrawal Effects: Some individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing Ozempic, such as changes in appetite, mood swings, and temporary worsening of glycaemic control.
Many people are buying counterfeit Ozempic, which presents a whole host of worrying scenarios and health concerns.
As a healthcare professional I feel concerned that ‘quick fix’ drugs for weight loss are getting in the hands of those who do not really need them, and those in society who are easily influenced and vulnerable. I am particularly concerned for those unaware of the risks, and those who are prioritising ‘appearance’ over health – we have social media to thank for this, with heavily edited images and unrealistic goals. There is simply not enough evidence on its safety as a weight loss drug, and I believe it can spur on addictions and conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). I know groups of women who have told me they are using it to "shift baby weight" and also as a means to "continue to eat and drink whatever i want without putting on weight".
I'm passionate about helping individuals achieve their weight loss goals naturally, sustainably, and safely. Before reaching for medications like Ozempic, please get in touch with me so we can have a chat about the numerous effective and healthier alternatives available to you.