About 18% of People Gain Weight After Using Medication

There has been a lot of buzz around the drug Semaglutide, sold under the brand names Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus. Some people take it to aid their blood sugar. Others take it to manage their weight. But there has been a ton of chatter around it from all sides.

It has been on the market since 2017 but has been picking up speed, becoming very popular in 2021. When used with diet and exercise, it can help blood sugar. And it can help reduce “food noise” or constant food cravings a person feels despite not being hungry.

There has been controversy around it. That’s common with newer drugs. There could be unknown long-term side effects. There often are. Most drugs come with the unfortunate caveat that you have to measure the good against the bad. It’s possible that we don’t know all of the downsides of Semaglutide yet. But we do know some of the benefits. And we’re learning more positives. A recent study found that it can help heart failure patients.

Another big argument against using Semaglutide for weight loss has been that it’s expensive, and people usually gain back the weight they lose. It’s true that our large argument for why we don’t like diets with harsh rules is that you are likely to revert to old eating habits and gain all the weight back. Wegovy — the brand name when it’s sold for weight loss — costs around $270 per week. If insurance isn’t covering it, that is a shocking price tag.

But, a new study found that 17.7 percent of people gained the weight they lost back after they stopped taking Semaglutide. And, 56.2 percent of people kept all the weight off and continued to lose weight after they stopped taking the drug. Obviously, that doesn’t sound good. But, 80 percent of people regain half of what they lost after dieting. While everyone wants a magic bullet, it seems like Semaglutide offers significantly better results than dieting alone.

There have been concerns that people who take Semaglutide would have to take it for life to maintain their results. Doctors say that it shouldn’t be taken to “lose that stubborn five pounds.” It is a serious medication that people should expect to be on for a long time to help their long-term health goals. However, they don’t believe people should have to stay on it to maintain their results.

Doctors recommend having a diet plan in place as well as a doctor the patient can speak to. “Everyone who has lost a significant amount of weight inevitably hits bumps in the road,” said Dr. Katherine Saunders, a physician at Weill Cornell Medicine. “The patients who fare best are those who reach out early to their care team for help.”

It’s essential to keep up with a healthy diet rich in fiber and protein and to maintain exercise routines after finishing the course of medication. Weight loss cannot be permanent if a person eats unhealthy food and stops exercising. No diet or medication can make a person one permanent weight if it’s not maintained plan.

Many people do regain weight after taking expensive weight loss medications. However, the benefits can be maintained if diet, exercise and other steps are taken. We still don’t know the whole story about Semaglutide or its side effects, but the fear of weight rebounding shouldn’t stop you from discussing it with your doctor.    

Banner image: I Yunmai via Unsplash

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