Ozempic diabetes drug is trending as a weight-loss method — here's why and what doctors say

Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel weighed in on the craze

A popular diabetes drug isn’t always being used as it was originally intended. 

As of recently, the drug Ozempic has become a handy weight-loss fix — and people are raving about the results they're seeing. 

The "breakthrough" discovery has gone viral on social media — with the Ozempic hashtag receiving nearly 227 million views on TikTok.

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The trend has specifically taken off among the rich and famous, with celebrities and others using Ozempic and other variations of the drug, such as Wegovy and Trulicity.

A woman holds her Trulicity injection at her home in Sandy, Utah. 

A woman holds her Trulicity injection at her home in Sandy, Utah.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Oct. 1, 2022, that fasting and using Wegovy have been his secrets to looking more fit.

Even before that, on Sept. 22, Bravo’s Andy Cohen tweeted about the increase in Ozempic use for weight loss.

"Everyone is suddenly showing up 25 pounds lighter," he wrote. "What happens when they stop taking #Ozempic?????"

While there have been mixed feelings among the public about the drug’s safety, Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel told Fox News Digital that he’s not concerned — with some caveats.

"I don't think it's a dangerous drug," he said. "But doctors need to be in the equation."

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"What I like about it is it’s similar to the way bariatric surgery works, without the surgery," he said.

Siegel stressed that "no drug is without a risk or side effect" — so a doctor’s guidance is always recommended, even though Ozempic is generally "well-tolerated."

A woman measures her waist. "No drug is without a risk or side effect" — so a doctor’s guidance is always recommended, said Dr. Marc Siegel, even though Ozempic is generally "well-tolerated."

A woman measures her waist. "No drug is without a risk or side effect" — so a doctor’s guidance is always recommended, said Dr. Marc Siegel, even though Ozempic is generally "well-tolerated." (iStock)

"This drug can cause nausea. It can cause problems temporarily with dizziness, with headaches," he said.

"There are side effects of this drug, but there are side effects of any drug," he said, "so I feel comfortable prescribing it — but I don't think anyone can take any drug."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 approved Ozempic as a weekly injectable to help lower blood sugar in Type 2 diabetics.

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Although Ozempic is prescribed off-label to people who are obese or overweight, other users have been able to get their hands on the medication through consenting physicians.

A man injects Semaglutide Ozempic to control his blood sugar levels. 

A man injects Semaglutide Ozempic to control his blood sugar levels.  (iStock)

A Wall Street Journal report noted that Santa Monica-based gynecologist Shamsah Amersi admitted she's prescribed the drug to celebrity patients who have exhausted other weight loss methods.

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"I tell my patients to use this to retrain the way we eat," Amersi said, according to the Journal article.

Dr. Siegel reiterated to Fox News Digital that while the drug can be used to reset appetite under proper guidance, people looking to lose weight should also focus on traditional, healthy habits such as exercising more, eating regularly, sleeping better and consuming less alcohol.

"All of that would help," he said.

A young woman works out. Right now, due to high demand, there's an official shortage of Ozempic, according to the FDA. 

A young woman works out. Right now, due to high demand, there's an official shortage of Ozempic, according to the FDA.  (iStock)

While Siegel said that Ozempic shouldn’t be restricted to treating diabetes, he said that the drug is being "overused."

Due to high demand, there is an official shortage of Ozempic, according to the FDA — which Siegel said is a concern.

Even though new weight loss drugs such as Tirzepatide are in the works, Dr. Siegel explained that other diabetes drugs must be developed to address both diabetes and obesity — which tend to go hand-in-hand.

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"Obesity worsens or provokes or even causes diabetes … because obesity is accompanied by insulin resistance and antibodies against insulin," he said. 

A man prepares an Ozempic injection.

A man prepares an Ozempic injection. (iStock)

"So, all that's going together where you have difficulty. You've got too much sugar pouring in and you don't have the ability to get it into cells."

Siegel added that there’s "no recognition" by the health care system that diabetes and obesity are directly linked — so, often, diabetes drugs are approved before obesity drugs.

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"I think that these drugs are obesity drugs and diabetes drugs," he said. 

"And I think the restriction that you have to have diabetes [in order] to get it is wrong."

"I’d like to be able to prescribe it," added Dr. Siegel, meaning as a weight-loss medication.