Semaglutide and Weight Loss: What You Need to Know

Obesity is a growing problem around the world, with over 40% of adults in the United States classi­ed as obese. The health risks associated with obesity are well-known, and include an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

One potential solution to this problem is semaglutide, a medication currently used to treat type 2 diabetes that has recently gained attention for its potential use as a weight loss drug. Semaglutide was initially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, under the brand name Ozempic. It is sold under various other brand names including Rybelsus and Wegovy. It’s important to note that while these brand names may be used interchangeably with “semaglutide,” they may have di‡erent dosages, administration instructions, and indications.

Semaglutide works by mimicking a hormone in the body called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, and also a‡ects appetite and metabolism. Semaglutide has been shown to be effective in lowering blood sugar and promoting weight loss in diabetic patients, and recent studies have suggested that it may also be effective as a weight loss drug for non-diabetic patients.

One study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2021, followed over 1,900 participants who were overweight or obese and did not have diabetes. Participants were divided into two groups, with one group receiving a weekly injection of semaglutide and the other receiving a placebo. After 68 weeks, the semaglutide group had lost an average of 14.9% of their body weight, compared to just 2.4% in the placebo group. The study also found that semaglutide led to improvements in other health markers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

How does semaglutide work to promote weight loss? One theory is that it affects the appetite centers in the brain, leading to a decreased desire for food. It may also slow the rate at which food is digested, leading to a feeling of fullness for longer periods of time. However, as with any medication, semaglutide may have side effects. The most common side effects reported in studies include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Some patients may also experience low blood sugar, although this is more common in diabetic patients taking semaglutide for that purpose.

“Ozempic face”, is a term that has been used by some individuals to describe a potential side effect of semaglutide and other GLP-1 receptor agonists. This side effect refers to the loss of fat in the face, which can result in a more sunken or gaunt appearance.

While the mechanism behind this side effect is not fully understood, it’s thought to be related to the medication’s effect on the body’s metabolism and fat storage. However, it’s important to note that this side effect is not experienced by everyone who takes semaglutide, and the severity of the effect can vary. While semaglutide’s potential as a weight loss drug is exciting for many, some people have expressed concern about the drug being used by non-diabetic individuals. Some have argued that people using the drug for weight loss could create a shortage and prevent those who need it to manage their diabetes from accessing it. There have also been concerns about the message this sends about body image and weight loss, and whether it promotes unhealthy attitudes towards weight and health.

Semaglutide has shown promise as a potential weight loss drug that could help combat the obesity epidemic. As with any medication, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting semaglutide, and to be aware of the potential side effects. But for those struggling with obesity and its associated health risks, semaglutide may o‡er a new hope for a healthier future.

DR. LIGHTHOUSE 954-860-7997

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