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The skinny on Ozempic: fad fix or sustainable solution?

Before you jump on the Ozempic bandwagon, let's look at what it is, how it works, and whether it's safe in the long run—or if it's too soon to tell.

Ozempic has taken Hollywood by storm and become a celebrity in the weight-loss world. Initially designed for type 2 diabetes, it has recently garnered widespread attention on social media.

It dominates discussions in the comments for its reputation for helping A-listers drop weight fast—whether they admit to it or not. But before you jump on the Ozempic bandwagon, let's look at what it is, how it works, and whether it's safe in the long run—or if it's too soon to tell.

From diabetes drug to weight-loss workaround

Ozempic was first developed to manage type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. These drugs mimic a natural hormone in the gut that tells your body you're full, regulating blood sugar levels.

During the clinical trials of Ozempic for diabetes, researchers noticed an unexpected outcome—patients were also dropping weight. This prompted further studies on Ozempic's potential for weight management, leading to its approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for chronic weight management in 2021.

How does Ozempic work for weight loss?

So, how does Ozempic promote weight loss? Without getting too technical with all the scientific mechanisms of how the drug works, here's a simplified look at how it works:

  • Feeling fuller for longer: Ozempic slows down stomach emptying, keeping you satisfied for a longer period. This can naturally lead to reduced calorie intake.
  • Reduced appetite: Ozempic mimics glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1)—a hormone in the body that regulates appetite—making you crave food less.
  • Increased insulin sensitivity: Ozempic helps your body use insulin more effectively, promoting better blood sugar control, which helps with weight management.

Studies show promising results. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients taking Ozempic alongside making healthy lifestyle changes lost an average of 12.4% of their body weight compared to 2.4% in the placebo group.

Courtesy of Novo Nordisk

The drawbacks of Ozempic 

But Ozempic certainly comes with its fair share of considerations. First, it’s far from budget-friendly. The exact cost can vary depending on insurance coverage, but it can run you close to $1000 a month without insurance. It's also a prescription drug, so your doctor has to sign off on it. 

But in Canada, it’s even harder to get ahold of. According to the Globe and Mail, Health Canada approved Ozempic in 2018, followed by Wegovy—the same drug by another name—in 2021. However, Wegovy is currently unavailable in Canada due to high demand in the US and other countries. As a result, some doctors are prescribing Ozempic "off-label" for obesity treatment, but it’s not nearly as accessible as it is in the US at the moment.

And while Ozempic shows promise, it has potential drawbacks. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and constipation. There's also a risk of a rare but severe side effect called pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation).

Because Ozempic's sudden fame came on so fast, the jury is still out on whether there are any serious long-term effects. Ozempic is a relatively new drug for weight management, so long-term effects are still being studied—and likely will be for years. More research is needed to understand its impact on overall health over extended periods. 

How do you take it, and is it forever?

Ozempic comes in a pre-filled pen for self-injection, typically administered once a week. It's not a magic bullet, though. Ozempic is intended to be used alongside a healthy diet and exercise program for sustainable weight loss. So, for those hoping to continue with unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle while jabbing themselves once a week for a fad fix, it may not work.

While you can stop taking Ozempic at any time, weight regain is a real possibility. Studies suggest that maintaining a healthy lifestyle after stopping Ozempic can help you keep the weight off, but there are no guarantees, with many variables depending on the individual. 

Who shouldn’t take Ozempic?

Ozempic isn't suitable for everyone. People with a history of pancreatitis, thyroid cancer and specific allergies should steer clear. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid it. Discussing your health situation with your doctor before starting Ozempic is crucial.

A healthier path to weight loss

While Ozempic can be an effective option for some, a more natural and holistic approach to weight loss is still advised. 

Here are some tips:

  • Focus on a balanced diet: Include plenty of real, whole foods that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Here’s a great place to start.
  • Move your body: Regular exercise is essential for weight loss and overall health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week.
  • Build healthy habits: Develop sustainable practices like mindful eating, portion control, and stress management. These can help you maintain a healthy weight in the long term.

Bottom line  

While Ozempic has gained tremendous popularity as a quick fix for weight loss and is approved for weight management in Canada, its long-term safety and accessibility remain subjects of ongoing research. Before considering Ozempic, consult your healthcare provider to weigh the benefits and potential risks. Remember that a holistic approach to weight loss through diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits remains the safest and surest path to your healthiest weight and overall well-being.

About the Author


Alicia is a journalist and editor in digital and print media specializing in health, nutrition, fitness, and wellness. She was previously the Editorial Director of Clean Eating and Vegetarian Times. Her work has also appeared in Hone Health The Edge, Yoga Journal, Women’s Running, and Oxygen, among others. In addition to being a content creator, she's an ISSA-certified nutritionist, certified personal trainer, and fitness studio owner in Toronto. Alicia loves spreading the word about helpful, science-backed health information, and she can be contacted via her website at