What Should You Know Before Taking Popular Weight Loss Drugs Like Ozempic and Wegovy?

Wegovy and Ozempic are two very popular weight loss drugs in America currently that contain semaglutide as the active ingredient which is in fact a generic medication now.

They belong to a class of drugs called Glucagon-Like-Peptide-1 agonists, which means they closely mimic and enhance the action of the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1 in the body. These drugs lower blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin release from the pancreas.

Ozempic is FDA-approved to treat type II diabetes in patients whose sugar levels are excessively high and it works towards lowering the blood sugar levels which helps the patients to stabilize.

The secondary effect of GLP-1 agonists allows individuals to lose weight as this hormone delays emptying of food from the stomach and works on controlling hunger and craving centers in the brain. Wegovy is the FDA approved GLP-1 agonist used specifically to treat obesity.

Individuals who use this drug for a short period are likely to regain the weight they lost once they stop taking it. Semaglutide must be used based on medical needs rather than societal pressure to achieve specific body standards. Additionally, it’s worth noting that these medications can be quite expensive.

There are obvious advantages to these drugs and they are incredibly effective in treating obesity. A four-year study showed that patients treated with Wegovy lost 10% of their body weight and maintained that weight loss while on the drug.

Weight Loss Drugs Ozempic and Wegovy
Weight Loss Drugs Ozempic and Wegovy

The benefits of these drugs don’t end at losing a few pounds. Patients treated with semaglutide were 20% less likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease after three years in treatment as per the SELECT trial. This benefit to the cardiovascular system was seen in patients taking the drug regardless of their initial weight or the amount of weight they lost.

Semaglutide can save the kidney in diabetes patients. Patients receiving weekly semaglutide injections were 24 percent less likely to experience a major kidney disease event including kidney failure compared with those receiving placebo, as per the results of a phase IIIb trial reported in Nature.

These medications could be lifesavers for a lot of people in America fighting the war against obesity. Around 40 percent of adults in America are obese and another 31.6 percent are overweight as per the data from Food Research and Action Center. These drugs will also have a massive impact on the cardiovascular health of these individuals as cardiac disease is the leading cause of mortality globally.

Despite the myriad of advantages of these drugs, there are some concerns and risks associated with GLP-1 agonists. As with most medications, they do have side effects some of which are mild while others can be quite serious. The drugs are generally well tolerated and patients may experience mild side effects such as nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea. Some severe side effects can be related to gallbladder problems, inflammation of the pancreas, change in vision and even development of a type of thyroid cancer.

As more and more Americans turn to these drugs for weight loss, coupled with the growing obesity statistics, the likelihood of abuse and overuse will inevitably pose a significant public health issue. People may turn to the drug as a convenient solution to being overweight, without taking the necessary steps to evaluate the underlying lifestyle choices that may be contributing to obesity.

As the popularity of these drugs soars in American culture, coupled with rising obesity rates, the potential for misuse and overuse is becoming a major public health concern. People might turn to these medications as a quick fix for being overweight, neglecting the underlying lifestyle factors contributing to obesity.

In theory, significant weight loss could be achieved on these drugs even if individuals continue to eat unhealthily or avoid regular exercise. However, obesity is a complex, chronic disease that demands a comprehensive approach to treatment. This includes lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and drug therapy when appropriate. The goal should be overall health improvement, not just lowering the number on the scale.

Drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are designed for long-term use because they address chronic conditions. Yet, with celebrities praising these drugs for short-term weight loss, many people might be tempted to use them just to shed pounds before significant events like weddings. This behavior undermines the true purpose of these medications, which is sustained weight loss to manage a chronic disease. Those who use the drugs briefly will likely regain the weight once they stop taking them. The use of semaglutide should be driven by medical necessity, not societal pressure to meet certain body standards.

Moreover, these drugs come with a hefty price tag. Wegovy can cost over $1300 a month without insurance, according to Singlecare. Recently, Medicare announced that health plans under the Medicare D (outpatient) program could offer limited access to Wegovy for patients who are overweight or obese and have preexisting heart disease. Despite this limited access, the high cost of these drugs could worsen health disparities, as obesity disproportionately affects low-income Americans who may not be able to afford them.

There’s no doubt that GLP-1 drugs could revolutionize the fight against obesity in America, with profound health benefits we’re only beginning to understand. Despite all the potential allure, it’s crucial to use these drugs wisely, with the primary aim of improving overall health.


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