Ozempic Rebound Is Real: Doctor Says Weight Gain Can Be 'Devastating' After Stopping; study found that a majority of people who take semaglutide — branded as Ozempic and Wegovy — gain most weight back
by Paul Alexander
study found that a majority of people who take semaglutide — branded as Ozempic and Wegovy — gain most of the weight back within a year of stopping the medication
Ozempic — prescription medication for type 2 diabetes — and Wegovy — prescription medication for clinical obesity — are brand names for semaglutide, which works in the brain to impact satiety. Taken once a week by injection in the thigh, stomach or arm, the medications have recently been trending on social media and in Hollywood circles as some people have used it for weight loss, even though they don't have diabetes or clinical obesity.
A study in the Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that a majority of people who take semaglutide gain most of the weight back within a year of stopping the medication, which can be difficult to control.
One of those patients is Yolanda Hamilton from South Holland, Illinois, who told NPR that her doctor prescribed her Wegovy because she had high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and was overweight. She said the drug made her crave less sugar, gave her more energy and allowed her to feel full from smaller meals, resulting in her losing 60 lbs.
However, when she switched jobs and was under a new insurance company, Hamilton's Wegovy was no longer covered and she couldn't afford the out-of-pocket costs for the medication, which reached about $1,400 per month. Within a few months of stopping her weekly injections, she gained back 20 lbs.
"I'm very frustrated about the weight coming back on in so little time," Hamilton told the outlet, noting the effects wearing off without the prescription. "I crave sweets… I'm losing my energy."
"If I gain more weight, I will be on more medications," she continued, adding that stopping the Wegovy could impact her blood pressure and blood sugar.’
Ania Jastreboff, M.D., PhD., an obesity medicine physician scientist at Yale University, tells PEOPLE that for those who use drugs like Wegovy or Ozempic, they have to continue taking the medications if they want to maintain the weight loss because diabetes and obesity are chronic conditions.
"If you have a patient who has high blood pressure, they have hypertension, and you start them on an antihypertensive medication, and their blood pressure improves, what would happen if you stopped that medication? Well, their blood pressure would go back up — and we're not surprised. It's the same with anti-obesity medications," she explained.
"[Expecting a patient with chronic obesity to lose weight through willpower] is akin to having a patient with diabetes and thinking that they can concentrate really hard to bring their blood sugars down," Jastreboff continued. "You can't do that, and with obesity, our patients can't use their prefrontal cortex for the rest of their lives to impact every morsel of food that they eat. So, it's not in our control. Once that set point is elevated, you need treatment."