More people are talking about Ozempic. Should you take it?

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There is no easy way to lose weight in a healthy and safe manner. Despite this, the fitness and supplement industry continuously attempt to push diet fads and workout regimens as the easiest way to lose weight. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical medications have also become increasingly popular and are believed to be an effortless way to lose weight among their users. Although they may help with weight loss, they are unnecessary and potentially unsafe.اضافة اعلان

One such drug that has been trending recently is semaglutide or Ozempic, a medication that was initially created to help treat diabetes. Here is what you need to know about the trending drug.

What is Ozempic?
In 2021 the injection form of semaglutide, also known as Ozempic, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for chronic weight management. Semaglutide stimulates insulin production and also targets areas of the brain that regulate appetite, according to the FDA.

While Ozempic has gained increasing popularity as a weight loss wonder drug and has the added benefit of being taken once a week, it should be noted that Ozempic is technically not FDA-approved for weight loss.

Another tradename for Ozempic, known as Wegovy, is approved and used for weight loss; although they are the same drug, Wegovy is available at higher doses used for weight loss, whereas Ozempic is available at lower doses for the treatment of diabetes.

Since Wegovy is not widely available yet, and not available at all in Jordan, people often take multiple doses of Ozempic to compensate.

Who is it for?
Although semaglutide is useful in weight loss, it is not for everyone. It is only indicated in those that are obese or in those who are overweight with another condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or dyslipidemia (i.e., poor cholesterol).

Per the FDA, obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or more, and overweight is defined as a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or more. Additionally, this medication alone does not cause weight loss; a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity are also required to be effective.

In terms of weight management, the world is seeing an increase in overweight and obesity. One study projected that by 2030, half of the world’s population would be overweight or obese.

Jordan is no exception and has one of the highest rates of obesity in the region. A 2020 found that 41.2 percent of Jordanian men are overweight, and 36.1 percent are obese. In Jordanian women, it was found that 29.1 percent are overweight and 48.2 percent are obese.

How does it work?
Semaglutide works in several ways to help cause weight loss. It first helps lower blood sugar by mimicking a hormone that is naturally produced when eating. Additionally, it can delay emptying food from the stomach to help people feel full longer. Lastly, it acts on different brain parts involved in regulating appetite.

Does it work?
Semaglutide, specifically Wegovy, is actually one of the most effective weight loss medications.

When taken at its maximum dose and combined with lifestyle changes, it was found to reduce body weight by 15.8 percent over 68 weeks. Additionally, for those who are obese and have diabetes, it has also been shown to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attacks.

Although it is an injection, it also has the added benefit of being taken just once a week.

What is the harm?
Ozempic is a diabetic drug, not a weight loss drug. Since Wegovy received FDA approval for weight loss, it has been in high demand and combined with production issues, there have been shortages. This has caused shortages in Ozempic, which is projected to last into 2023.

Due to people taking Ozempic for weight loss inappropriately, medication shortages can impact those who need it to manage their diabetes.

In Jordan, there is a history of lax regulation of medications that should require a prescription which can cause issue’s to arise. Although there are classifications on which drugs are over-the-counter and prescription only, poor enforcement in community pharmacies results in high self-medicating rates. A 2008 study found that 42.5 percent of Jordanians self-medicate as common practice.

Although there is no information on self-medication regarding Ozempic, it is likely being taken through the informal and unqualified advisement of the internet, friends, or family. This is further compounded by the fact that Ozempic is not even available in the strengths needed to produce the magic weight loss effects commonly advertised. Even then, simply knowing what doses to take and when, is not enough.

Chronic weight management should be individualized based on the patient’s experiences and needs. Similarly, this medication should be regarded as the last line of treatment for obesity and only used when lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise alone have failed.

Semaglutide is also not without its risks. Firstly, semaglutide was only developed a decade ago, and its use as a weight loss medication is new. Although the safety of its use has been tested quite extensively, there is no research on its long-term effects as a weight loss medication. Even in the short term, side effects can prove to be troublesome.

The most common side effects are abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. This medication is also injected and requires proper instruction on how to take it. Improper administration or storage could result in harm to the individual.

Although rare or not fully understood, Ozempic has also been associated with serious and potentially life-threatening complications. One of the most important and severe side effects is the risk of thyroid cancer. Other severe side effects include acute kidney injury, increased risk of eye damage in diabetics, and gallbladder disease.

If, despite your best efforts, diet and exercise alone prove ineffective, consult a nutritionist or your doctor to help you get on the right track. If you have health complications, especially due to being overweight or obese, and the aforementioned has not helped, then consult your doctor on ways to manage your weight.

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