Written on May 23, 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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Weight loss is a challenge many individuals face, as 1 in 3 Americans have obesity. While diet and exercise are the foundation of weight loss, medications may help your weight loss journey. Medications known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1s) receptor agonists can enhance your weight loss results from diet and exercise routine.[1-3] Wegovy® is a GLP-1 FDA-approved for adults with obesity or adults who are overweight with at least one weight-related comorbidity.[1-4] This article explains Wegovy® and Wegovy® weight loss results.
Wegovy® is a GLP-1 formulated with semaglutide.[1-4] Semaglutide is found in three popular medications, Wegovy®, Ozempic®, and Rybelsus®. [1,5,6] While all these medications contain semaglutide, only Wegovy® has FDA approval for weight loss.[1-3] Semaglutide was initially developed to treat type 2 diabetes (T2D) and improve glucose control. A study of T2D patients revealed weight loss as a side effect of semaglutide.[1-3] Consequently, researchers investigated whether semaglutide could help non-diabetic patients lose weight. Further clinical trials confirmed the weight loss effects of Wegovy® in patients without diabetes.
Wegovy® is a once-weekly subcutaneous injection available in a prefilled, single-dose pen. When taking Wegovy®, injecting it every week on the same day, with or without food, is recommended. Wegovy® injections are administered into the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm.
Wegovy® is available in five different dosages, 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 1.7 mg, or 2.4 mg. When starting Wegovy®, an initial dose of 0.25 mg once weekly for 4 weeks is recommended. The dose is gradually increased to 2.4 mg, the maintenance dose of Wegovy®. Obtaining Wegovy® requires a prescription from your healthcare provider, who will determine your eligibility.
Wegovy® eligibility is based on your body mass index (BMI) and whether you have weight-related comorbidities. Adults with a BMI of 30 kg/m^2 are eligible for Wegovy®. Adults who are overweight with at least a BMI of 27 kg/m^2 and one weight-related medical condition are also eligible for Wegovy®. Common weight-related comorbidities include hypertension (high blood pressure), T2D, and dyslipidemia.
Wegovy® is not for patients with a personal history or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2). Patients with a history of serious hypersensitivity reactions to semaglutide or a component of Wegovy® should not take Wegovy®. Your healthcare provider will determine whether Wegovy® is appropriate for you based on your health history and weight loss goals.
Wegovy® works by suppressing your appetite, delaying stomach emptying, and stimulating glucose secretion.[1-3] Wegovy® is recommended to complement a healthy diet and exercise routine.[1-3] Additional research is needed to determine the optimal lifestyle modification program for Wegovy®.
Wegovy® may cause gastrointestinal (GI) distress, including nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting.[1-4,7] When starting Wegovy®, nausea is the most commonly reported GI side effect. During the 68-week STEP 3 clinical trial, 82.8% of participants reported mild to moderate GI side effects. However, most patients recovered from GI side effects without stopping Wegovy®.
Serious adverse events (AEs) of Wegovy® include gallbladder-related disorders, thyroid C-cell tumors, pancreatitis, malignant neoplasms, and kidney problems. Other adverse effects include an increased risk of low blood sugar in patients with T2D, particularly those patients taking sulfonylureas or insulin, diabetic retinopathy, elevated heart rate, and depression with thoughts of suicide. Serious hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis and angioedema, have occurred with Wegovy®.
Wegovy® weight loss results will vary.[1-4,8] Factors affecting weight loss, such as genetics and environment, can impact weight loss with Wegovy®. During the 68-week STEP 1 clinical trial, non-diabetic patients lost approximately 14.9% of their baseline weight with Wegovy® (2.4 mg).
During the STEP 3 clinical trial, Wegovy® increased mean weight loss by 10.3% compared with placebo when used with behavioral therapy and a low-calorie meal replacement program. During the STEP 5 clinical trial, Wegovy® sustained a 15% average weight loss at two years, making it the only GLP-1 proven to support sustained weight loss.
During another clinical trial, patients regained two-thirds of their prior weight loss within 1 year of discontinuing Wegovy®. Consequently, Wegovy® weight loss results depend on your continued use of Wegovy®. A healthcare provider's support may help you maintain your weight loss if you stop taking Wegovy®.
Our Weight Care+ program lets you connect virtually with a healthcare provider to discuss weight loss online. Regular virtual care visits, lab testing, and support for related conditions are included in the program. The program requires a 3-month commitment, but participation does not guarantee a GLP-1 prescription. Your healthcare provider will determine your eligibility for a GLP-1 prescription based on their clinical judgment.