Weight loss drugs are the rave right now, but are they a good option for you? With so many options out there it’s difficult to know.
If you struggle to lose weight through diet and exercise or have a medical condition that would be made better with weight loss, prescription drugs may be an alternative for you; but they’re hardly the magic pills celebrities like Elon Musk and Chelsea Handler have touted them to be. Weight loss medications work best when you combine them with lifestyle changes like choosing healthier foods, eating fewer calories and exercising regularly.
Two-thirds of Americans — a disproportionate number of whom identify as non-Hispanic Black – are overweight or obese, heightening their risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Weight loss medications may be a key piece in reversing this trend. Here’s what you need to know:
Ozempic and Wegovy: A new class of weight loss drug
Sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, semaglutides mimic glucagon-like peptide-1, a hormone that stimulates insulin-producing receptors in the pancreas after you eat. The two drugs are the same, but are prescribed for different conditions — Ozempic is prescribed for type 2 diabetes, whereas Wegovy is indicated for obesity (both drugs are made by Novo Nordisk). Notably, off-label Ozempic prescriptions for weight loss are not covered by federal (Medicaid or Medicare) or most private insurance.
Semaglutides work in a number of ways to lower one’s A1C, a marker of one’s blood sugar levels. For starters, it stimulates the body’s natural ability to lower blood sugar by binding to insulin-releasing GLP-1 receptors. The insulin, which is only released when you need it, shuttles sugar from your bloodstream to your vital organs such as muscle, bone, the heart and the brain. But the advantages don’t stop there — the popular drug also makes you feel full (which limits your food cravings), reduces the amount of sugar released by your liver and slows down food digestion in the gut, curbing blood sugar spikes after a meal.
A new “Ozempic”
Mounjaro — made by Eli Lilly and most famously taken by Sherri Shepherd to help regulate her type 2 diabetes — has been called the new Ozempic because the drug works on not one, but two insulin-stimulating receptors. Like Ozempic, the enhanced semaglutide is a once-a-week prescription injectable drug for those with type 2 diabetes. Other than that, Mounjaro works similarly to Ozempic and Wegovy and carries the same side effects. Mounjaro shortages have been reported amid growing popularity for its weight loss effects.
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