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Understanding the Effects and Misinformation Surrounding Semaglutide: A Comprehensive Review

misinformation surrounding semaglutide

Explore the impact of semaglutide on weight loss, diabetes management, and potential misinformation surrounding semaglutide. This evidence-based article examines common questions and provides reliable information supported by credible references.

While semaglutide is an FDA-approved medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity, there may be some misinformation and confusion surrounding it.

Here are a few common misinformation surrounding semaglutide:

  1. Semaglutide is a miracle weight loss drug: While semaglutide has shown promising results in promoting weight loss 2Singh, Gurdeep, Matthew Krauthamer, and Meghan Bjalme-Evans. “Wegovy (semaglutide): a new weight loss drug for chronic weight management.” Journal of Investigative Medicine 70.1 (2022): 5-13., it is important to understand that it is not a magic pill. It is intended to be used as part of a comprehensive weight management program that includes a healthy diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. At Valley Forge Weight Management Center, we emphasize the need for building healthy habits for sustainable results. Any prescription medication prescribed is an adjunct to building healthy lifestyle skills.
  2. Semaglutide is a substitute for a healthy lifestyle: Semaglutide should not be seen as a replacement for adopting a healthy lifestyle. It is meant to be used in conjunction with healthy eating habits and regular physical activity to achieve sustainable weight loss and improved metabolic health.
  3. Semaglutide is suitable for everyone: Semaglutide may not be suitable or recommended for everyone. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional who can assess your medical history, current health condition, and individual needs to determine if semaglutide is appropriate for you.
  4. Semaglutide causes severe side effects: Like any medication, semaglutide may have potential side effects. However, the majority of reported side effects are mild to moderate, and they often improve over time. It is crucial to discuss potential side effects and risks with your healthcare provider.
  5. Semaglutide is a permanent solution: Only permanent solution to healthy, sustainable weight loss is building healthy habits. Semaglutide is typically used for a specific treatment duration as prescribed by healthcare professionals. Once the treatment is completed, it is important to maintain healthy habits to sustain weight loss and manage diabetes or obesity effectively.

Only permanent solution to healthy, sustainable weight loss is building healthy habits.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to address any concerns or misinformation surrounding semaglutide and to ensure accurate information tailored to your specific situation.

Misinformation surrounding semaglutide

Semaglutide is an FDA-approved medication used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. It has gained significant attention for its potential benefits in weight management.

WegovyWeekly InjectionObesity (BMI > 30 or BMI > 27 with co-morbid condition)
OzempicWeekly InjectionType 2 Diabetes
RybelsusDaily TableyType 2 Diabetes
Semaglutide containing medications

Here are some common inquiries and misinformation surrounding semaglutide floating on the web and evidence-based information supported by reputable sources.

How much weight can you lose in a month with semaglutide?

The amount of weight loss achievable with semaglutide varies depending on individual factors such as starting weight, adherence to treatment, and lifestyle changes. Clinical studies 3O’Neil, Patrick M., et al. “Efficacy and safety of semaglutide compared with liraglutide and placebo for weight loss in patients with obesity: a randomised, double-blind, placebo and active-controlled, dose-ranging, phase 2 trial.” The Lancet 392.10148 (2018): 637-649. have shown that individuals using semaglutide, along with a comprehensive weight management program, have achieved substantial weight loss over a period of several months.

  • 83% of adults taking Wegovy® lost 5% or more weight, compared to 31% taking a placebo
  • 66% of adults taking Wegovy® lost 10% or more weight, compared to 12% taking a placebo
  • 48% of adults taking Wegovy® lost 15% or more weight, compared to 5% taking a placebo

Do doctors recommend semaglutide?

Semaglutide is recommended by healthcare professionals for individuals with type 2 diabetes or obesity who meet specific criteria. Under the brand name Wegovy, it is indicated for chronic weight management. Under the brand name Ozempic and Rybelsus, it is indicated for type 2 diabetes. However, the suitability of semaglutide as a treatment option may vary based on individual circumstances. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider to determine if semaglutide is appropriate for your specific needs.

How long is it safe to be on semaglutide?

If you are looking to take semaglutide for weight loss, the clinical trial for Wegovy was conducted for 68 weeks. In this 68-week medical study [1Wilding, John PH, et al. “Once-weekly semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity.” New England Journal of Medicine (2021).]of adults with obesity (BMI ≥30) and adults with excess weight (BMI ≥27) who also had weight-related medical problems including high blood pressure or high cholesterol, people with type 2 diabetes were excluded. Both groups received instruction for a reduced-calorie meal plan and increased physical activity. 7% of people taking Wegovy® (92 people) left the medical study due to side effects, compared to 3.1% of people taking a placebo (20 people). Based on the study, the weight loss effects of 15% weight loss may require this much length of treatment theoretically. But the weight loss effect is dependent on multiple factors – adherence to the lifestyle plan, consistency in taking medication, and other co-morbid condition. Therefore, the duration of semaglutide treatment is determined by your healthcare provider. Close monitoring and regular follow-ups with your doctor are essential throughout the treatment period to ensure its safety and effectiveness.

What happens when you stop taking semaglutide?

When discontinuing semaglutide, its effects gradually diminish over time. In the study published in 2022 4Wilding, John PH, et al. “Weight regain and cardiometabolic effects after withdrawal of semaglutide: the STEP 1 trial extension.” Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism 24.8 (2022): 1553-1564., participants regained two-thirds of their prior weight loss, with similar changes in cardiometabolic variables. Findings confirm the chronicity of obesity and suggest ongoing treatment is required to maintain improvements in weight and health. It is important to work closely with your healthcare provider to develop a plan for transitioning off the medication and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Can semaglutide be harmful?

Semaglutide, like any medication, may have potential side effects. However, it is important to note that the majority of reported side effects are generally mild to moderate in nature. Common side effects may include nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal discomfort. It is crucial to discuss potential risks and benefits with your healthcare provider to make an informed decision.

Can you stay on semaglutide for life?

The duration of semaglutide use varies depending on individual needs and treatment goals. While some individuals may require long-term treatment, others may eventually transition to alternative management strategies. For weight loss, semaglutide (Wegovy) is FDP-approved for chronic weight management. Let’s understand this with an analogy for blood pressure management. If one takes blood pressure medication, the blood pressure comes in the normal range, but that does not mean that one should stop the blood pressure medications. One can potentially be off blood pressure medication when one makes a significant lifestyle change and lose weight. A similar approach should be taken for semglutide (or any other weight loss medication). If one makes a significant lifestyle change and loses weight, one can get off semaglutide or other weight loss medications easily.

Regular discussions with your healthcare provider can help determine the appropriate duration of semaglutide use in your specific case.

Can semaglutide damage the pancreas?

Let’s understand how semaglutide works. The figure below is published in Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine 5Chao, A. M., Tronieri, J. S., Amaro, A., & Wadden, T. A. (2023). Semaglutide for the treatment of obesity. Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine, 33(3), 159-166.

Theoretical and empirically supported mechanisms of action of semaglutide for obesity (Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine33(3), 159-166.

Semaglutide promotes insulin secretion from beta cells in the pancreas and decreases glucagon secretion in a glucose-dependent manner. This means that Semaglutide only lowers blood glucose when it is high. When your blood glucose is normal, it does not further lower it. Semaglutide results in weight loss via reduced energy intake with minimal effects on energy expenditure. It works in the brain to control hunger hormones (lowers appetite) and in your stomach by delaying gastric emptying (so food does not move swiftly down, causing bloating, constipation, and nausea).

While there is no evidence to suggest that semaglutide directly damages the pancreas, it is essential to discuss any concerns regarding its potential impact with your healthcare provider.

Has anyone kept the weight off after using semaglutide?

Long-term weight maintenance after semaglutide use is possible for individuals who continue to follow a healthy lifestyle. Successful weight management involves an ongoing commitment to healthy habits, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and behavior modification.

Does semaglutide reduce belly fat?

Semaglutide has been shown to have some impact on reducing overall body fat, including visceral fat, which is associated with increased health risks. However, the degree of belly fat reduction may vary among individuals, and its effectiveness should be evaluated in the context of an overall weight management plan.

What happens if a non-diabetic takes semaglutide?

Semaglutide is specifically approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. In the clinical trial for Wegovy, all the participants were non-diabetic. There is no need or indication for using semaglutide for patient who do not diabetes and who are not obese. Patients with obesity and no diabetes may take Wegovy (Semaglutide). Patients with diabetes, with or without obesity, may take Ozempic or Rybelsus (also semaglutide under different brand names and indications).

Does semaglutide slow your metabolism?

Semaglutide has not been shown to significantly slow down metabolism. Its primary mechanism of action involves enhancing insulin secretion and reducing appetite, contributing to improved blood sugar control and potential weight loss. It is important to rely on evidence-based information when discussing the effects of semaglutide on metabolism.

Understanding semaglutide’s effects and dispelling misinformation is essential for making informed decisions regarding its use. This article aimed to address common questions and concerns surrounding semaglutide, emphasizing evidence-based information supported by reliable references. Remember, consulting with a healthcare provider is crucial to determine if semaglutide is suitable for your specific needs and to develop a personalized treatment plan.

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Valley Forge Weight Management Center is a physician-supervised medical weight loss center dedicated to helping patients lose weight and keep it off. We provide medical weight loss services to individuals throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey through secure virtual/telemedicine appointments. Let us help you lose weight from the comfort of your home – wherever you live in Pennsylvania and New Jersey! In-person appointments are also available at our Norristown, Pennsylvania office.

To learn about how our medical weight loss program works, please visit here. The details of our Gold Personalized Subscription plan are here.

Dr. Adarsh Gupta (a bariatrician) provides one-on-one consultation to uncover the factors leading to weight gain and provides a personalized plan to help achieve sustainable weight loss.  If you have questions and would like to discuss if the program is suitable for you, please schedule a FREE 15-minute online consultation with the physician. To book an appointment, click here


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