Oh! Ozempic, Other Semaglutides Make Impact on Health Landscape

By Brenna Kehew Sculley

by ELYSIAN Magazine

A medication called semaglutide, which is sold under different brand names, including Ozempic, was approved in 2017 for treating type 2 diabetes, but suddenly it seems to have entered the cultural lexicon. What may have started as rumors about countless celebrities has transformed into a real conversation about how weight loss can have an impact on one’s health. 

You’ve likely seen the headlines. Speculation surrounding any celebrity who suddenly starts looking trim like Mindy Kaling or Kyle Richards, those admitting to using the treatment like Chelsea Handler, or the hundreds of TikTok accounts talking about how Ozempic has effected them.

Likely the increase in popularity is that Wegovy, a type of semaglutide, was approved just last year for weight loss, but Ozempic has been used almost as shorthand for any semaglutide for some time now.

The makers of Wegovy, Novo Nordisk, ask, “Have you lost weight in the past only to have it return?”  … A question so many of us can relate to. According to the Trust for America’s Health, nationally, 41.9 percent of adults have obesity, and most people who lose a large amount of weight have regained it two to three years later.

Weight loss isn’t easy, and there are complicated factors that seem to have made it even more challenging in modern times. The Obesity Action Coalition, one of the nation’s leading voices on obesity, works to raise awareness and improve access to the prevention and treatment of obesity. The organization is passionate about detailing how obesity is a complex, multifactorial and chronic disease that requires a comprehensive approach to both prevent and treat. 

Obesity is a major contributor to a vast number of preventable deaths in the United States and it usually carries with it a large number of related conditions. Obesity is too often misconstrued as a cosmetic problem, a personal failure or a condition of personal choice. It is critical that those whose weight is affecting their health and wellbeing have real options, backed by science, to treat their condition. 

Novo Nordisk conducted a 68-week medical study of 1,961 adults living with obesity or excess weight using Wegovy along with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. Those adults lost about 15% of their body weight – for someone who is 230 pounds, that is about 32 pounds lost and maintained. Compared to their placebo group, who only lost six pounds on average, anyone who has ever tried to stick with a diet knows that the results of using a semaglutide like Wegovy are enviable.

But the results come at a cost. The drug requires weekly injections and can be expensive, and taking any medication is not a choice that should be made lightly. As with any healthcare decision, the choice is different for each person and should be made after consulting a healthcare professional.

Semaglutides work by helping you regulate and limit the number of calories you consume, which leads to weight loss. But after about six months, the medication’s effects plateau and regaining that weight can be easy to do unless you follow a strict diet and lifestyle, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Semaglutides can also cause a person to lose muscle mass, which is important for maintaining your metabolism and preventing injuries. While this decreases your overall weight, it can undermine health benefits, according to Insider.com.

Of course, we know there is no miracle drug, but for adults with obesity or some adults with excess weight and weight-related medical problems, along with a reduced calorie meal plan and increased physical activity, this may be an option to discuss with your healthcare provider.

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