Ozempic to lose weight: these Quebec women do not regret
Ozempic can be prescribed for weight loss.
It's no longer a secret that Ozempic can help with weight loss, even though this drug was originally intended to treat type 2 diabetes. Meet women who take it to reduce their waistline and who, for now, have no regrets.
The six patients who agreed to talk about their experience at Métrodidn't go through the black market or TikTok to get the drug. They all received a prescription from their doctor since they met certain medical criteria: they either had a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30, or a BMI greater than 27 accompanied by other health problems. They also had to prove that they had tried to lose weight by adopting a healthy diet and exercising, without success.
In the majority of cases interviewed by Metro >, health professionals were the first to suggest taking Ozempic. Is it amazing?
“For me, it's more acceptable for doctors to approach taking the drug [Editor's note: considering that they have the expertise to assess the best treatment] rather than patients,” says Dr. Benoît Arsenault, also full professor in the Department of Medicine at Laval University.
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He admits, however, that the opposite is happening since the public is, according to him, “bombarded with advertisements” touting the weight loss properties of Ozempic. Patients who do not really need it would be more and more numerous to request it to lose weight.
Despite her many efforts, Evelyne, 32, hadn't seen a change on the scale for years. Like many people, his satiety signals are out of order and his metabolism does not allow him to lose weight naturally. So she went to therapy to try to change her relationship with her body, also without success. The only possible solution, according to her, was to take Ozempic.
“I started this because I was tired of fighting with my image. I didn’t love me anymore.”
And in less than ten months, the one who wants to become a mother soon claims to be “very happy with [her] current results”. She lost over 40 pounds, going from a weight of 252.4 pounds to a weight of 210 pounds.
Carole, 63, started taking Ozempic following a significant weight gain from taking antidepressants. She first used another anti-diabetic injectable drug that suppresses hunger pangs, Saxenda, between September 2021 and January 2022, to control her weight. The treatment had caused her to lose about 20 pounds in five months, but a plateau was reached. She then turned to Ozempic, and went from 187 pounds to 140 pounds in 13 months, or 47 pounds less.
Health problems other than obesity would also justify taking Ozempic to lose weight, according to Benoît Arsenault. The doctor mentions, for example, prediabetes, fatty liver disease, hypertension, problems with blood lipids, and cholesterol. If the weight of these patients was not managed with the appetite suppressant treatment, their problems could have worsened.
This is the case of Émilie, 34, whose general health was declining. “I told him [Editor's note: his nutritionist] told him about my health problems: polycystic ovary, hepatic steatosis, genetic kidney disease (hypokalemia), prediabetes, obesity [BMI of 38], in addition to hyperphagia and orthorexia. Despite eating well, exercising several times a week and walking daily, I was not even able to lose a pound.”
His situation has improved, from his point of sight, with the Ozempic. Her binge eating has not returned, her physical symptoms of prediabetes have subsided, and she feels, overall, better. His next follow-up with his gastroenterologist will allow him to confirm or not this progress.
Although the results vary from person to person, some being zero, all the patients (all women) with whom we spoke claim to have seen great changes on the scale. For her part, Émilie says she has lost about a pound a week since she started Ozempic injections. Unheard of in his case.
You should know that doctors prescribe the treatment for off-label use by relying on a similar drug, Wegovy. It is that the long-term effects of Ozempic are still unknown: “We therefore base our choice on the advantage that this drug will confer, compared to its disadvantages”, mentions Dr. Arsenault.   ;
And mental health in all that?
Monica, 40, says the treatment she's been using for months that has “finally” helped her lose weight has been like a lifeline to her mental health. “Having suffered from bulimia for almost 30 years, although “controlled” for a year, I only saw my weight increase, becoming in a situation of great obesity. I eat well, I move every day, but my weight was only going up. So it was in crisis and suicidal in my psychiatrist's office that I was told about Ozempic.”
For her, there was no question of having bariatric surgery, an invasive solution of last resort. His psychiatrist therefore transmitted his case to the doctor, who, after analysis, prescribed the treatment. In his entire career, the doctor has prescribed Ozempic to only three patients, including Monica.
In Monica’s opinion, her doctor would not have recommended this medication to her if she hadn’t not had a close psychological follow-up at the same time. According to psychologist Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier, this support is non-negotiable – although not mandatory according to the terms of Public Health – for people who suffer from eating disorders and who take Ozempic.
“When we talk about eating disorders, there are distortions that are there. There is a malaise in relation to oneself. We can't put that aside. It's not because you lose weight that the disorder is automatically resolved.”
Indeed, these Ozempic users will often see a drastic physical change – desired, let’s be clear. But the ideals set are rarely achieved, which can cause painful mourning, warns the psychologist, who insists on the importance of support during treatment.
Adverse effects< /strong>
While many people insinuate on TikTok that the treatment is miraculous, some uncomfortable side effects associated with taking Ozempic are sometimes glossed over.
“For some, the side effects will be significant, to the point where their quality of life will suffer and a certain number of them will decide to stop the drug, remarks Dr. Arsenault. The majority of people will [however] have no or very few side effects.”
Among the most common side effects:
These effects are gastrointestinal in nature, since Ozempic mimics a naturally secreted intestinal hormone that regulates hunger and causes insulin to be secreted in the body, and causes the secretion of insulin, a hormone that is not produced or produced in insufficient quantity in people with diabetes.
And people who experience these side effects can suffer from them for life if they really “need” Ozempic. The drug must be injected daily, potentially for life. Stopping, unless you make significant changes in your habits, is often synonymous with regaining weight, as explained by Dr. Richard Dumas, endocrinologist at CISSS Laval, in a video on TikTok.
< blockquote class="tiktok-embed" cite="https://firstname.lastname@example.org/video/7200392339288804614" data-video-id="7200392339288804614" data-embed-from="oembed" style= "max-width: 605px; min-width: 325px;" > @joseph.dahine
Ozempic: we talk about it with an endocrinologist #medtiktok #ozempic #medical #medecine
♬ original sound – Joseph Dahine, MD
Judgments that weigh heavily
People who take Ozempic are not at the end of their sentence. They are sometimes criticized for “stealing” the treatment from diabetics, especially since a shortage has been observed in Australia and the United States due to the popularity of the drug. “There is [however] no risk [of shortage] in Quebec to my knowledge, but it is certain that the more we talk, the more the enthusiasm there is and the more people seek to obtain it” , explains Yann Gosselin Gaudreault, pharmacist who practices in Alma.
The idea that these people are “lazy” because they opt for medication, a solution considered “easier” than exercise, to control their weight, also reinforces the stigma, underlines Dr. Benoît Arsenault. Just as thinness is a beauty ideal, natural weight loss without medical aid is idealized. Diets – although decried by many nutritionists – are even often preferred to drugs.
“[I get] lots and lots of easy judgments. Enough that now I only say that I went on a diet and no longer mention the use of Ozempic”, confirms Carole on this subject.
Metro a moreover, encountered a great deal of reluctance when approaching members of Facebook groups devoted to discussions about taking Ozempic for weight loss.
< strong>Towards an Ozempic 2.0
Ozempic is on its way to being dethroned by other weight-loss drugs that will slowly enter the market – including a treatment based on tirzepatide, approved in the United States and currently being evaluated by Health Canada.
*The names and ages of the people interviewed are real. However, they preferred not to reveal their surnames.