Ozempic is the latest weight loss trend among celebrities, but is it healthy?

Jan 18, 2023
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Whether admittedly or purportedly, it seems like everyone in Hollywood is in on a new weight loss secret: Ozempic. Elon Musk attributed his recently slimmed down figure to using Wegovy, an Ozempic-like medicine containing the same active ingredient (semaglutide). And Kim Kardashian’s rapid weight loss for the Met Gala? Supposedly also a result of Ozempic. 

The celebrity trend has generated so much buzz that there is now actually a supply shortage of Ozempic. 

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic, also known as semaglutide, is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. It’s used as a shot which can be done by yourself at home once a week. Ozempic has been approved as a prescription medication for treating diabetes since 2018 in Canada.

Semaglutide, the active ingredient of Ozempic, is also found in two other medications: Rybelsus and Wegovy. Rybelsus is semaglutide in an oral pill form, also used for diabetes treatment. Wegovy is semaglutide in an injectable form approved for weight loss. While Wegovy is approved by Health Canada, it is not yet marketed as of Nov 2022.

How does Ozempic work for weight loss? 

On TikTok, you’ll hear Ozempic described as “resetting the way you eat”. Here’s how the science behind it plays out. Ozempic mimics a hormone called GLP-1, which is responsible for controlling how quickly your stomach moves food forward to your intestines where calories are absorbed. GLP-1 also releases insulin after eating and stops your liver from releasing sugars into the bloodstream. So, when you take Ozempic, your body thinks there’s more GLP-1 around, which means your stomach empties slower and carbs are absorbed slower without causing blood sugar spikes. In turn, you feel fuller longer, eat less, and lose weight. 

It’s important to know that Ozempic is currently only approved by Health Canada for type 2 diabetes, and is not officially approved for weight loss.

As far as viral celebrity trends go, Ozempic is legit. Semaglutide is a useful weight loss tool backed by scientific research. Initially, weight loss was noticed as a ‘side effect’ when semaglutide was tested as a diabetes drug. More recently, the maker of Ozempic gained Health Canada approval for semaglutide (Wegovy) as a weight loss drug which can be used by people without diabetes. Wegovy is not yet marketed in Canada. 

What are the benefits of using Ozempic for weight loss? 

Excess weight can put you at serious long-term health risks, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. If methods like diet and exercise aren’t working well enough to get you to a healthy weight, using a medication like semaglutide may help. If you also have type 2 diabetes, Ozempic may be particularly helpful as it can help with controlling both blood sugar and weight. As always, start by having a conversation with your healthcare provider about what is a healthy weight for you. Get their help to help you understand the pros and cons of using Ozempic for weight loss. 

Is it safe to use Ozempic for weight loss?

Ozempic is a prescription-only medication and should only be used under medical supervision. 

Some side effects of Ozempic are:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Risk of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas with symptoms like sudden severe abdominal pain)
  • Risk of thyroid cancer in animal studies 

Can you use Ozempic if you don’t have diabetes?

Ozempic is a prescription-only medication and should only be used under medical supervision. Although Ozempic is only approved by Health Canada for type 2 diabetes, your doctor can still prescribe it if they consider it a good option for you, even if you don’t have diabetes. This is called “off label prescribing”. Using medications “off label” is common in a variety of health conditions. The most important thing? Loop in your doctor in deciding what’s a healthy weight for you and the healthiest ways to achieve it. 

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