Person stepping on bathroom scale while wondering about a weekly injection for diabetes and weight loss

Weekly Injection for Diabetes and Weight Loss: How It Works

Written on June 27, 2023 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH. 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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In 2021, for the first time since 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “approved Wegovy® (semaglutide) injection (2.4 mg once weekly) for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight with at least one weight-related condition (such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol), for use in addition to a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity.”[1]

These subcutaneous injections that go just under the skin are “indicated for chronic weight management in patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or greater who have at least one weight-related ailment or in patients with a BMI of 30 or greater.”[1]

FDA-Approved Options for Diabetes and Weight Loss Medications

Three products on the market contain semaglutide and are approved by the FDA: Ozempic® and Wegovy® injections and Rybelsus® tablets.[2] In this article, the focus will be on semaglutide medications due to their popularity. The FDA explains these medications:

  • “Ozempic® and Rybelsus® tablets are approved to lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes… in addition to diet and exercise. Ozempic is also approved to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus and known heart disease.
  • Wegovy® injection is approved to help adults and children aged 12 years and older with obesity or some adults with excess weight (overweight), who also have weight-related medical problems, to lose weight and keep the weight off, in addition to diet and exercise.”[2]

The Relationship Between Diabetes and Weight Loss

As described in our article A Quick Guide to Diabetes, diabetes is “a chronic health condition that can occur when the body fails to produce insulin or doesn’t respond to it—resulting in high levels of blood sugar… There are different types of diabetes, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, your pancreas is unable to produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, your body experiences insulin resistance (in other words, your body’s cells don’t respond effectively to insulin).”[3]

Diabetes can be caused by genetic or lifestyle factors that lead to insulin resistance, resulting in high glucose levels in the blood.

The American Diabetes Association discusses the relationship between diabetes and weight loss: “When you have diabetes, being overweight brings added risks.”[4] About “60% of people with type 1 diabetes and around 85% of people with type 2 diabetes are carrying extra weight or are living with obesity.”[5]

Studies show that for those who are pre-diabetic, “weight loss has been shown to delay the onset or decrease the risk” of type 2 diabetes. For people living with type 2 diabetes, weight loss reduces cardiovascular risk, helps in diabetes management, improves quality of life, mobility, and physical and sexual function.[6]

For those living with type 1 diabetes (which develops regardless of weight), “losing any extra weight will help you reduce your risk of complications and could mean injecting less insulin.”[5]

All of that said, you may be at a weight that works for your body, and losing too much weight has other serious consequences. Even losing five percent of your weight helps to improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.[5]

Make sure to discuss this with your healthcare provider (HCP), particularly the HCP that works with you to manage your diabetes.

The Science Behind Weight Loss and Diabetes

So how does weight loss actually impact diabetes? As aforementioned, diabetes is related to insulin and blood sugar, and “extra weight around your waist means fat can build up around your organs, like your liver and pancreas,” which can lead to insulin resistance; “losing this weight could help the insulin you produce or the insulin you inject work properly.”[5]

As explained in Everlywell’s Benefits of Semaglutide, “Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, or GLP-1 RA. It mimics the GLP-1 hormone, released in the gut in response to eating.”[7] GLP-1 has two jobs. The first is to prompt the body to produce more insulin, and the second is to interact with your brain so you know if you feel full or hungry. Essentially, semaglutides send messages to your brain that you feel full, which suppresses your appetite and reduces blood sugar.

When coupled with lifestyle changes and movement, it can result in significant weight loss in people who are classified as obese or overweight.[8]

Everlywell Weight Loss Support

Options of Injections for Weight Loss and Diabetes

There are options for long-acting, weekly injectable GLP-1 drugs: dulaglutide, exenatide extended-release, and semaglutide.[9] As previously stated, the two FDA-approved injectable semaglutide drugs are Ozempic® and Wegovy®.[2]


Ozempic® is a medication for adults living with diabetes or who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It can also be paired with other diabetes medications.[10]

For people living with type 2 diabetes, Ozempic® can lower HbA1c, which is an indicator of blood sugar control.[11] Though it is not indicated to be a weight loss drug, many people living with type 2 diabetes who take it report weight loss due to its mechanisms that aim to reduce appetite and reduce blood sugar.[12]


Wegovy®, approved in 2014, is a weekly injection for diabetes and weight loss in adults classified as obese or overweight.

In its trials, those without type 2 diabetes who received Wegovy® lost an average of 12.4% of their initial body weight compared to individuals who received a placebo. Those with type 2 diabetes who received Wegovy® lost an average of 6.2% of their initial weight compared to individuals who received a placebo.[7]

Weight Management via Everlywell

Everlywell's online weight loss program employs the expertise and care of clinicians, the science of lab testing, and prescriptions like GLP-1s to support you on your health journey.

If you are interested in measuring the maintenance of your blood sugar levels for the past 90 days, read more about the home-collection hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test.

Ozempic® for Type 2 Diabetes: What You Need to Know

How Does Obesity Cause Diabetes?

Which Diabetic Drug Causes the Most Weight Loss?


  1. Office of the Commissioner. FDA approves new drug treatment for Chronic Weight Management, first since 2014. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published June 4, 2021. Accessed June 2, 2023.
  2. Medications Containing Semaglutide Marketed for Type 2 Diabetes or Weight Loss. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Current as of May 31, 2023. Accessed June 2, 2023.
  3. Wall K. A quick guide to diabetes: What it is, symptoms, testing, and more - blog: Everlywell: Home Health Testing Made Easy. Everlywell. Reviewed January 23, 2020. Accessed June 2, 2023
  4. Weight loss. ADA. Accessed June 2, 2023.
  5. Weight loss and diabetes. Diabetes UK. Accessed June 2, 2023.
  6. Wilding JP. The importance of weight management in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Int J Clin Pract. 2014;68(6):682-691. doi:10.1111/ijcp.12384.
  7. Mulligan L. Benefits of semaglutide. Everlywell. Published May 22, 2023. Accessed June 2, 2023.
  8. Semaglutide for weight loss - what you need to know. UCLA. Published January 12, 2023. Accessed on June 2, 2023.
  9. Yeng S. What are the GLP-1 drugs?. Everlywell. Published November 28, 2022. Accessed June 2, 2023.
  10. Ozempic®. European Medicines Agency. Updated March 5, 2023. Accessed on June 2, 2023.
  11. Drug trial snapshot: Ozempic®. Food and Drug Administration. Updated August 8, 2020. Accessed on June 2, 2023.
  12. Ozempic® and weight loss: the facts behind the headlines. Diabetes UK. Published January 20, 2023. Accessed on June 2, 2023.
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