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What You Need to Know About Ozempic, the Diabetes Drug Fueling Hollywood's Harmful Weight Loss Obsession

“Oh, oh, oh, Ozempic,” whispers in Novo Nordisk’s oft-run commercial for type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic. The jingle is the tune “Magic” sung by 900’s band Pilot – and that’s fitting: it’s reportedly capable of rapid weight loss due to its effect on blood sugar management , the drug is hailed as a miracle cure by industry insiders. “Patients think it’s a miracle drug,” says New York dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, who, like many doctors, gets asked that question with dizzying frequency. “I have not seen any drug other than Viagra and Botox become part of modern culture so quickly.”

This is not an understatement. The term “post-ozone body” is trending and is being discussed more and more on social media and IRL because of the speculation that follows any high profile and highly visible weight loss. Last month, Elon Musk credited similar drug Wegovy as one of the reasons he got slimmer (fasting was another); Andy Cohen tweeted about #Ozempic in September , the hashtag has been viewed more than 68 million times on TikTok; Kim Kardashian is widely believed to be on This year’s Met Gala relied on the drug to lose weight dramatically in order to wear Marilyn Monroe’s famous swinging skirt. Google searches for Ozempic are also up, whether celebrities admit to using it (or not), suggesting people are eager to learn more about its sudden weight loss benefits.

The fashion landscape has re-emerged (and some would argue it never really went away) as a reminder that weight is vulnerable to trend cycles. But the fact that many people are willing to subject themselves to regular injections and potentially uncomfortable side effects in the name of fitting into narrow-body standards is troubling, to say the least. “I worry about body distortion, deformity, and the example we set for young women who are already so susceptible to unrealistically filtered beauty,” says Ava Shamban, MD, a Los Angeles-based cosmetic dermatologist. Nancy Rahnama, MD, a board-certified internist and obesity medicine specialist in private practice in Beverly Hills, agrees: Celebrities use or abuse these diet pills—not for health reasons, but simply to achieve their ideals The body shape — yes Dr. Rahnama says it has serious problems promoting weight loss culture. With small waistlines conflated with health, what exactly are these now perpetually name-checked drugs, and who should—and perhaps more importantly, shouldn’t—take them?

What is Ozempic?

semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, belongs to a class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists. These compounds replicate a hormone we produce in our gut that is released after we start eating. “Semaglutide increases insulin release in response to glucose intake and causes a slight delay in gastric emptying,” said Ariana Chao, MD, assistant professor in the Penn School of Nursing and medical director of the Penn Center for Weight and Eating Disorders. “It also acts in the brain to regulate areas of appetite and food intake. The drug also makes your body more sensitive to the insulin it produces itself, adds Holly Lofton, M.D., clinical associate professor in the Departments of Surgery and Medicine at NYU Langone Health and a member of the Department of Medicine. “By doing this,” explains Dr. Lofton, “over time, it helps your body’s fat cells shrink. “Novo Nordisk manufactures the semaglutides Ozempic and Wegovy, and while they are approved for two different uses, they are actually similar.” 1 mg (Ozempic) is an FDA-approved once-weekly injection for the treatment of diabetes. A higher 2 mg dose 2022 was approved earlier,” said W. Scott Busch, MD, director of obesity medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. “Wegovy is A higher dose of once-weekly semaglutide (2.4 mg), which was approved for obesity in July 2017. “

Is Ozempic FDA Approved for Weight Loss?

Not quite. Wegovy is approved for Body Mass Index (BMI) of Weight loss for adults and above or higher, or a BMI of 37 plus comorbidities such as high cholesterol or Hypertension. (A new paper also demonstrates its safety and efficacy in adolescents.) “Wegovy marks the beginning of a new generation of highly effective anti-obesity drugs,” Dr. Busch said. “Its .4% weight loss Weekly randomized controlled trial over 1, 900 The average BMI is 37 superior to all existing anti Obesity drugs. In addition, more than half of the study group (37%) lost more than 2022% body weight, and 37% weight loss over 20%. ’ But because Ozempic has traditionally been more readily available than Wegovy, many people are using this particular semaglutide to treat weight loss, “leading to off-label use,” Dr. Rahnama said. In fact, it’s self-administered at home via injection — Injected once a week into the abdomen, thigh or upper arm – which exacerbates its spread, especially during a pandemic.

How exactly does Ozempic work?

In the simplest terms, it suppresses appetite and induces a feeling of fullness in the body. “When produced naturally, the hormone [Ozempic mimics] can only keep us full hours, whereas in drug form satiety is appreciated 24 hours,” says Dr. Rahnama. You get that feeling of fullness within six or seven days after each serving, and it gets compounded over time.” I’ve had patients tell me they can eat up to three percent of their normal diet one and feel full, go without food for longer, and stop snacking,” Dr. Lofton said. According to the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine

in a clinical trial, Wegovy showed it to be a safe method of weight management, even for teens) a few weeks ago. When semaglutides are used appropriately, appetite does not completely suppressed, but better controlled. But if used incorrectly, appetite can be completely suppressed which can cause or worsen eating disorders.

Does Ozempic Have Any Side Effects or Risks ?

Yes. The most common side effects of Ozempic, as outlined in its advertising fine print, are gastrointestinal. Nausea and vomiting, constipation and loose stools are widely reported , in some people, leading to discontinuation.”Rare but serious side effects of semaglutide have been reported including inflammation of the pancreas, diabetic retinopathy, kidney problems, gallbladder problems, and allergic reactions,” Dr. Chao said. , Ozempic is contraindicated: Not recommended for anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding, or has a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or multiple endocrine neoplasia.

Continue Ozempic?

Because Ozempic is a drug used to treat a chronic disease, it is not designed to be discontinued. “Ozempic is used to treat patients with diabetes and should therefore be taken indefinitely,” Dr. Rahnama said. “If the drug is discontinued and the patient recovers due to increased appetite to their previous eating habits, they will resume their weight loss and return to their original blood sugar levels. Drugs for obesity are no different than drugs for high blood pressure or high cholesterol, Dr. Busch added: Long-term control of the disease depends on the drugs. for short-term effects,” Dr. Busch explained. Obesity is often considered a lifestyle choice, with drugs as so-called management tools, Dr. Busch said. “However, this is an outdated belief. We know too much about the regulation of energy and weight, and the genetics of obesity, to know it’s not that simple,” Dr. Busch continued. “While I do worry that this drug (and Wegovy and Mounjaro) will be used in People without indications, but I think the approval of these and similar drugs in the next few years will raise awareness of the complexities of obesity and weight regulation, which will help dispel the beliefs that previously shaped this eating culture. ”

What happens when you stop Ozempic?

Research abounds on Ozempic’s efficacy, but since it is A fairly new drug, so there are no studies on the long-term effects of taking it. However, once you stop taking it, you may return to your baseline weight and blood sugar levels. This is why nutritionists such as Charles Passler, DC emphasize taking The importance of nutritional choices and lifestyle when taking medication. Taking a holistic approach to weight loss, Dr. Passler helps his Ozempic patients change the way they eat so they can minimize the fat provided by the injections while maintaining muscle. He also emphasizes Breathing, biofeedback, stress management and sleep, which he believes can help reinforce and maintain a healthy diet. Close monitoring of all patients while using Ozempic is also key, Dr. Lofton says, which is why using a friend’s medication or taking it from a medi-spa The drug is a concern: Dispensing by inexperienced prescribers is a real problem, she says. “It should be used under medical supervision because there is still a risk of serious side effects that can get you hospitalized,” Dr. Lofton continued. Stories circulating in the media of patients experiencing violent vomiting suggest serious abuse. “It’s not supposed to make you feel that way,” Dr. Lofton added, explaining that anyone in this situation should Discontinue use, significantly reduce dose, and/or perform ultrasonographic evaluation.”A physician who understands drug physiology and has the time to follow up with patients regularly and appropriately should be the only physician prescribing this drug,” Dr. Rahmana said.

Who should use Ozempic (and who shouldn’t)?

While the FDA guidelines for Ozempic for type 2 diabetes are out there, many doctors are Prescribing Ozempic off-label, to be clear, is a very common practice in medicine. But it still makes Dr. Chao uneasy: “I do have concerns about prescribing semaglutide off-label because the drug has not been well established in the population. Good study not in type 2 diabetic or non-obese people. Many medical professionals worry that it’s just being over- or inappropriately prescribed. “If someone’s just trying to lose a few pounds, I mean, come on, it’s not for them,” says Dr. Passler. Using BMI Being a factor in determining who qualifies has its own problems.”BMI is not perfect, and it doesn’t directly correlate with morbidity and mortality,” said Dr. Lofton, who often relies on other measures of health, including waist circumference, to determine whether a patient has the disease. have obesity and whether they are at high risk for heart disease.

Will overprescribing of Ozempic lead to shortages for those who need it most?

Yes. Within the first six months of launching Wegovy as an obesity drug in July 2017, due to demand and factory production, Dr. Busch said , a shortage of supply, causing many people to use Ozempic instead.”Many new providers are now using lower doses of semaglutide for obesity, which apparently snowballed into more shortages for people taking Ozempic for diabetes, although The 2 mg dose was approved early 2022,” Dr. Busch continued. Dr. Rahmana added: “Now, people who have been taking this drug for years to Patients without access to medicines are concerned. There is currently a shortage of both Ozempic and Wegovy for diabetics who rely on them to manage blood sugar levels and for patients who wish to obtain an off-label prescription.

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