Text Link

Learn more about the results we get at Within

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Learn more about the results we get at Within

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Semaglutide for weight loss (Ozempic)

Semaglutide, also sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, is an injectable medication prescribed to manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes who have not responded well to other medications.1

This medication can be prescribed to decrease the risk of a heart attack or stroke in people who have type 2 diabetes and a comorbid cardiovascular condition.1

Ozempic is also used in combination with a medically-supervised eating and exercise program to help individuals with diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure lose weight.1

6
 minute read
Last updated on 
June 12, 2024
Ozempic for weight loss
In this article

What are the risks of taking Ozempic for weight loss?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wegovy, a brand name for semaglutide, for weight loss in adults who have high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure.2

Although some people may benefit from taking Ozempic for weight loss if they have a comorbid medical issue, using this prescription medication for the sole purpose of losing weight medicalizes fatness and fails to address the real issue: weight stigma. The so-called “obesity epidemic” harms people living in larger bodies, contributes to anti-fatness and body weight bias, and can lead to mental health problems and eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, or bulimia nervosa.3,4

Some people with eating disorders or patterns of disordered eating may misuse semaglutide (and other weight loss medications) for weight management since this medication can reduce appetite and caloric intake.2 However, this can be risky, especially for those with anorexia nervosa who may already significantly restrict their food intake—it could increase the likelihood of undernutrition and its many dangerous consequences, such as:5

  • Reduced muscle functioning
  • Electrolyte disturbances
  • Reduced kidney functioning
  • Chronic gastrointestinal issues
  • Colon malfunctioning
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Depression and anxiety
Learn about other weight loss drugs and the dangers of taking them.
Read >

Furthermore, Ozempic is commonly prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes is associated with eating disorders, especially binge eating disorder (BED). In fact, research indicates that binge eating disorder is found in up to 20% of people with type 2 diabetes.6

In this case, being prescribed Ozempic or Wegovy may assist in weight loss for those who are in a higher-weight body, but it won’t address the underlying factors that can lead to binge eating disorder in the first place. This medication may also perpetuate weight cycling since research has shown that stopping use tends to result in regaining the lost weight.7

In this case, being prescribed Ozempic or Wegovy may assist in weight loss for those who are in a higher-weight body, but it won’t address the underlying factors that can lead to binge eating disorder in the first place. This medication may also perpetuate weight cycling since research has shown that stopping use tends to result in regaining the lost weight.7

It's important to get therapy in order to address the underlying causes of an eating disorder. Call us for a free consultation and to learn about remote treatment options.

Call now

Ozempic side effects and health risks

There are many side effects of taking Ozempic as a weight loss medication, including:1,2

  • Gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Excessive burping
  • Heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Flatulence
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease

These most common side effects of Ozempic don’t tend to be dangerous and may dissipate as you grow used to the medication. However, there is potential for more serious adverse effects, such as:1

  • Vision problems
  • Swelling in extremities
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Reduced urination
  • Rash
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Swelling of throat, tongue, mouth, face, or eyes
  • Problems swallowing or breathing
  • Fever
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Chronic upper stomach pain

Wegovy, another brand name for semaglutide, may also cause damage to the retina, suicidal ideation, gallstones, pancreatitis, and acute kidney damage.2

Moreover, taking semaglutide can increase the chance of developing thyroid tumors, including medullary thyroid carcinoma.1 Speak with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the side effects listed above. 

Can you overdose on Ozempic?

The maximum recommended dose of Ozempic is 1 mg, injected once per week.8 Using too much Ozempic or taking it too frequently can lead to an overdose and increase the risk of harmful side effects. 

Taking another glucagon-like peptide-1 agonist can increase the risk of an overdose and dangerously low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.9

Signs of low blood sugar may include:10

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hunger

Severe hypoglycemia may result in vision or coordination problems, extreme confusion, and even seizures.10

If you suspect someone has overdosed on semaglutide, call 911 immediately and stay by their side until first responders arrive. In the event of an Ozempic overdose, the person may need to be supervised and treated for an extended period since Ozempic’s half-life is about one week (meaning that’s how long it takes for the medication levels to be reduced to 50%).8

The connection between Ozempic and disordered eating

It seems like Wegovy and Ozempic are everywhere, from catchy commercials and news articles to statements from celebrities like Elon Musk, Chelsea Handler, and Kim Kardashian, who have taken them for weight loss and publicly sung their praises. And these medications have also racked up millions of views on TikTok, with people calling it a miracle weight loss cure and a wonder drug, thanks in no small part to diet culture and anti-fatness.

People have begun to misuse this medication to lose weight, especially those with eating disorders like bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. And if they can’t get a prescription, they may turn to social media to buy semaglutide from dealers, which can be dangerous since individuals can’t be sure what they’re buying and putting in their bodies.

This uptick in semaglutide popularity can be triggering for those who have struggled with disordered eating or full-blown eating disorders. Research has shown that media exposure, such as the trend and glorification of taking Ozempic as a weight loss drug, can increase the risk of disordered eating behaviors and symptoms.11

When to seek help for an eating disorder

Remember, there is no such thing as a standard "healthy weight" for everyone, and body mass index (BMI) also is not an accurate indication of what is healthy or not. If you or someone you know shows signs of an eating disorder, such as an obsession with avoiding weight gain or losing "excess weight," it may be time to consult with a professional.

It can be incredibly difficult to escape the omnipresent influence of diet culture; however, you can seek help if you are struggling with disordered eating symptoms.

Whether you opt for an in-person program like inpatient or outpatient treatment or a virtual treatment program like the one offered at Within, you can receive the individualized treatment planning you need to heal your relationship with food and your body and learn how to cope with the onslaught of diet culture in the news.

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.

Resources

  1. Semaglutide Injection. (2023). National Library of Medicine. Retrieved April 26, 2023. 
  2. FDA Approves New Drug Treatment for Chronic Weight Management, First Since 2014. (2021). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved April 26, 2023. 
  3. Puhl, R., Brownell, K. (2006). Confronting and coping with weight stigma: an investigation of overweight and obese adults. Obesity (Silver Spring), 14(10), 1802-1815.
  4. Puhl, R. M., & Heuer, C. A. (2010). Obesity stigma: important considerations for public health. American Journal of Public Health, 100(6), 1019–1028. 
  5. Saunders, J., & Smith, T. (2010). Malnutrition: causes and consequences. Clinical medicine (London, England), 10(6), 624–627. 
  6. Eating Disorders and the Patient with Diabetes. (2021). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved April 26, 2023. 
  7. Ojeniran, M., Dube, B., Paige, A., Ton, J., & Lindblad, A. J. (2021). Semaglutide for weight loss. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 67(11), 842. 
  8. Ozempic (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use. (2017). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved April 26, 2023. 
  9. Wegovy (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use. (2017). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved April 26, 2023. 
  10. Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia). (2022). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 26, 2023. 
  11. Becker, A. E. (2004). Television, disordered eating, and young women in Fiji: negotiating body image and identity during rapid social change. Culture, medicine and psychiatry, 28(4), 533–559.

FAQs

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is one of the brand names for the injectable Type 2 diabetes medication, semaglutide.1

What is Ozempic used for?

Ozempic is used to control blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes who haven’t had success with other medications. It may also be used to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack in people with Type 2 diabetes and a co-occurring heart condition.1

What happens if you take too much Ozempic?

Taking too much Ozempic can increase your risk of serious side effects, such as hypoglycemia. Lower blood sugar can lead to many physical and psychological issues, including seizures. If you take too much Ozempic, call 911 immediately.

Further reading

Zonisamide for weight loss (Zonegran)

If you’re considering taking zonisamide for weight loss or you already do, you’ll want to know the physical...

Diethylpropion for weight loss (Tepanil, Tenuate)

Diethylpropion (Tepanil, Tenuate) is a prescription appetite suppressant. Taking a “diet pill” like...

Tirzepatide for weight loss (Mounjaro)

Tirzepatide (Mounjaro) was approved in 2022 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating type 2...

Semaglutide for weight loss (Ozempic)

Semaglutide, also sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, is an injectable medication prescribed to...

Metformin for weight loss (Fortamet, Glumetza)

Metformin is a medication prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes by managing blood sugar levels. However...

Bupropion for weight loss (Wellbutrin, Zyban)

Bupropion, also sold under the brand names Zyban and Wellbutrin, is an antidepressant medication. It is...

Phentermine for weight loss (Adipex-P, Lomaira)

Phentermine is the generic name for the prescription drug sold under the brand names Adipex-P and Lomaira...

Orlistat for weight loss (Alli, Xenical)

Orlistat, is a medication sold under the brand names Alli and Xenical that is available over the counter...

Topiramate for weight loss (Topamax)

Topiramate, also sold under the brand name Topamax, is a prescription anticonvulsant medication used to...

Naltrexone for weight loss (Revia, Vivitrol)

Naltrexone, a medication prescribed to treat opioid and alcohol use disorder, is sometimes used for weight...

Dangers of supplement and weight loss pills

It can be tempting to look for a quick fix if you’re struggling with thoughts about your weight or have...

How to prevent a laxative overdose

When used appropriately, laxatives can be a helpful tool to alleviate constipation. But excessive laxative...

Laxatives and stomach cramps

While laxatives may relieve constipation associated with some illnesses, such as...

The truth about laxatives for weight loss

Using laxatives in an attempt to lose weight is a form of disordered eating that can...

The dangers of anorexiant diet pills

Anorexiant diet pills have increased dangers for those with an eating disorder. There...

Laxative misuse in patients with eating disorders

Laxatives have been used for health purposes for over 2000 years. These days they...

How safe are weight loss drugs?

Weight loss drugs aren’t safe to use without medical supervision and are generally prescribed to help in...

The harmful effects of laxative abuse

Laxative abuse is characterized by the excessive use of laxatives with the...

Further reading

No items found.