Written on August 21, 2023 by Theresa Vuskovich, DMD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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The obesity epidemic continues to plague America, with approximately two-thirds of the population overweight or obese. Individuals who are overweight or have obesity are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, not everyone who is overweight or has obesity develops T2D. Non-diabetics who wish to lose weight may benefit from a medication commonly used to treat diabetes called semaglutide.[3,4] This article explains semaglutide for weight loss in non-diabetics.
Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist designed to bind to GLP-1 receptors, which regulate appetite. Semaglutide was originally developed as a treatment for T2D to improve glucose levels, but clinical trials demonstrated patients lost weight while taking semaglutide.[4-8] Further clinical studies support the effectiveness of semaglutide in promoting weight loss among non-diabetics.[5,8,11]
Semaglutide causes weight loss by suppressing your appetite, delaying stomach emptying, and stimulating glucose secretion. Semaglutide complements dietary changes and exercise in adults with diabetes and non-diabetes. All GLP-1 medications require a prescription from a healthcare provider.
Aside from weight loss, semaglutide may prevent heart attacks and ischemic strokes in adults with T2D and a history of heart disease. During the SUSTAIN 6 clinical trial, semaglutide significantly reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events.
Semaglutide is the active ingredient in three popular medications, Wegovy®, Ozempic®, and Rybelsus®. [5-7] While all these medications contain semaglutide, only Wegovy® is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight loss. A healthy diet and frequent exercise are recommended to optimize the benefits of semaglutide.[5-7] The following are details on the different brands of semaglutide:[5-11]
Your healthcare provider will determine what brand of semaglutide is best for you. Wegovy® is the only semaglutide medication approved by the FDA for weight loss. However, Ozempic® and Rybelsus® are often prescribed off-label for weight management. According to the FDA, healthcare providers may prescribe a drug for an unapproved use if they judge it is medically appropriate.
The most common adverse reactions reported in patients treated with semaglutide include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation.[5-7] Semaglutide may increase your risk of pancreatitis, acute gallbladder disease, hypersensitivity reactions, acute kidney injury, and thyroid C-cell tumors.[5-7] Whether semaglutide is safe in people with pancreatitis is unknown.[5-7] Semaglutide is contraindicated in patients with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).[5-7]
Various factors, including lifestyle choices, will influence the duration of your semaglutide weight loss results. A clinical trial found that participants regained two-thirds of their previously lost weight within a year of stopping subcutaneous semaglutide. Establishing a relationship with a healthcare provider may help you maintain your weight loss by providing motivation and guidance.
The Everlywell telehealth option for online weight loss makes it easy to connect with a healthcare provider. The program combines GLP-1 prescriptions (if you qualify) with regular virtual care visits, lab testing, and support for related conditions. The program requires a 3-month commitment, but joining the program does not guarantee a prescription for a GLP-1. Your healthcare provider will determine your eligibility for a GLP-1 prescription based on their clinical judgment.
During your first visit, your healthcare provider will evaluate your medical history and order any necessary lab tests. During your second appointment, your provider will assess your test results, discuss your health and weight-related goals, and help you design a plan tailored to your needs.
During regular check-ins with your healthcare provider, you will discuss your weight loss progress, medication tolerance, and follow-up lab tests. Your healthcare provider will then adjust your care plan accordingly. The Weight Care+ program gives you the right tools to monitor and treat weight-related conditions.