PrO-Zempic: Taking a Weight Loss Drug Shouldn’t be Controversial

woman stands on a scale with arms raised in victory
As far as hot topics go, fad diets and weight loss cheats are never far from the outrage machine.
 It is so easy to jump on the judgment bandwagon, effectively shaming people who have likely been told for years- maybe their entire lives- that if they just lost a little weight, they’d be healthier. If they just lost a little weight, getting pregnant would come easier. If they just lost a little weight, their joint pain would ease up. Or even- if they just lost a little weight, they’d be beautiful. If they just lost a little weight, they’d find the love of their life. And on and on and on. It’s exhausting and frankly, it’s mean.

A Weight Loss Drug That Works

For months, I’ve been hearing about Ozempic, a drug made by Novo Nordisk to treat Type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels over time, lowering hemoglobin A1C, and reducing risks of stroke or heart attack in diabetes patients also known to have heart disease. Not because I suddenly know many Type 2 diabetics, but because celebrities and now many of the general population are using the drug for weight loss- and it works.

The FDA-approved version of this drug, meant just for weight loss, is called Wegovy which has a significantly higher dosage of semaglutide, the ingredient in Ozempic that can aid weight loss.
How are people losing weight by using this drug? Because the drug affects the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1 which controls the hunger center of the brain (the hypothalamus) which can decrease appetite and hunger signals. It can also slow digestion which would lead to feeling fuller longer, again decreasing appetite and consumption of food. Lowering your calorie intake leads to weight loss. It’s that simple.
The drug is not a stimulant, and the side effects are minimal (mostly gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea or constipation).

So What’s the Controversy?

Wegovy, the weight loss version of Ozempic, had a very high demand a few months back. This drug isn’t often covered by insurance, whereas Ozempic is, and when Wegovy became hard to get, people turned to Ozempic instead. This caused shortages for some people who need the drug to manage their diabetes. And that is not cool.
I also don’t think responsible physicians would prescribe a weight loss drug to patients who are already at a healthy weight or are even underweight. So people who fit into these categories taking the drug are basically being enabled (by whomever is prescribing the drug to them) to abuse something not necessary for them and not meant for them- also not cool.
BMI, the tool used to determine whether you are underweight, overweight, obese, or “just right” seems almost completely irrelevant. You cannot know what someone’s health is like based on the size of clothes they wear.
And  yet… ask any of your overweight friends if they have ever visited a doctor with a legitimate health concern and been dismissed because of their weight. I have had friends who struggled to conceive for years- YEARS- and the only answer they were ever given was to lose 10% of their body weight. BUT HOW.

Losing Weight is Not Simple

It’s not that easy to just start eating less- a lot less- enough to lose lbs. And if you’ve ever tried to, you know eating less leads to hunger and hunger can lead to a lot of other mental and emotional turmoil. {I’d personally rather be a little bit chubby than live every day of my life hangry. My family is probably grateful I feel this way too.}
I can speak from personal experience. After years of regular and vigorous exercise, some temporary dietary changes, and a lot yo-yo weight fluctuations, I asked my doctor if there was something more I could be doing to get over the hump of gaining and losing the same 10 lbs every year {studies show this kind of lifestyle isn’t healthy, either}.
She said, actually, yes. My weight places me firmly in the obese BMI territory. And she prescribed me a drug {not Wegovy or Ozempic} that had been around for years and proven to sometimes be effective for weight loss by suppressing appetite. I would go in for bloodwork after taking it for a month, just to make sure all was well, and we planned for me to be on it for 3 months total.
And I am here to tell you, the drug worked. I lost almost 10% of my body weight on it, an amount that is considered clinically significant to reduce some health risks, and I’ve kept that weight off for months. It gave me a jump start that I found motivating, and reignited my intentions to be mindful with my eating. And honestly, that can be enough to lead to greater changes.

My Body, My Decision

Yes, studies show that many people gain weight when they stop taking Wegovy {Ozempic is meant for long term use, as it’s a treatment for diabetes; Wegovy is only FDA approved for shorter term} but I think it’s really up to the individual and their doctor and knowing the risk/benefit ratio to your personal situation.
Sadly there is no one size fits all drug that can fix all your health problems. But we live in an amazing time when there are treatments available for so many things- chronic migraine, arthritis, cancer, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and on and on.
If you can’t see clearly, you get glasses. If you can’t hear, maybe you need a hearing aid. And if you need a little help losing weight, I don’t see any reason to feel shame in getting that help. Taking a weight loss drug is not right for everyone, but it could be right for some.
I wouldn’t say I’m “pro” Ozempic, but I’m definitely pro “mind your own damn business.” I’m pro “do whatever makes you feel good (*as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else)”. I’m pro “you deserve to feel beautiful” and “you deserve to feel like the best version of yourself.” And I’m always, definitely pro “my body, my decision.”
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Mary B
Mary B. is a lifelong creative, dreamer, and joy seeker. Born and raised in northern Illinois, Mary attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, receiving her B.F.A. in acting, then worked as a sometimes actress/model, sometimes waitress. Mary and her husband got married in Sept 2012, welcomed a son in 2014, moved to Texas from Chicago in 2016, and welcomed a daughter in 2017, completing their family. She self-publishes her musings on marriage, motherhood, and life on her blog, Accidentally Texan,. In her free time {free time--ha!} Mary loves to read, cook {and eat ;)}, work out, swim, travel, and spend time with her family. Mary believes emotional connection is the root of humanity and our collective purpose in life.


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