Overhauling the diet and adopting an intense workout routine was the approach to take for anyone looking to tip the scales.
But now there’s a “miracle” cure that effectively delivers the cheat code to overweight people – allowing them to lose significant weight without having to eat buckets of spinach or work out until they sweat.
A TikTok-inspired craze has seen semaglutide become the most popular product in the world and Hollywood.
Fans include Elon Musk, Jeremy Clarkson, and social media sensation Remy Bader, who describe his effects as “truly incredible.” It was also rumored that Kim Kardashian had taken the drug.
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson (left) revealed this month that he’s been taking Ozempic in an effort to lose weight. When asked in October if eating a healthy diet or going to the gym was the reason for his 30 lb (13.6 kg) weight loss, Elon Musk (R) credited “fasting” and “Wegovy”
Comedian and TV presenter Chelsea Handler (left) revealed she took the medication after her doctor prescribed it – but said it made her feel nauseous. TikTok star Remy Badr (R) revealed her doctor prescribed Ozempic in 2020 ‘before it was fashionable’
The wonder drug, called Ozempic or Wegovy, is given as an injection directly into the stomach, thigh, or upper arm.
It suppresses hunger by mimicking a hormone that regulates appetite, leaving users feeling fuller for longer.
But while the planet’s leading obesity experts accept its obvious weight loss benefit, they caution that it’s not a magic bullet for staying slim.
And it may lead to unpleasant side effects, from nausea and diarrhea to pancreatitis and gallbladder problems.
Confusingly, semaglutide is described as two separate drugs, and both are made by Denmark-based pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk.
Ozempic, which is seeing a rise in popularity, is targeted at people with type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood sugar and reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes among those who also suffer from heart disease.
The NHS watchdog approved Ozempic for people with type 2 diabetes in 2019, while US health chiefs gave it the green light for the same group in 2017.
Private clinics in the UK can give patients the drug off-label for as little as £200 a month, while in the US it’s free.
Novo Nordisk has warned that it does not support over-the-counter prescriptions, which could limit supply to type 2 diabetes patients who are prescribed the drug.
Sister drug Wegovy, which is packed with a slightly stronger dose of the wonder chemical, has been available to people who are overweight and have at least one weight-related condition since 2021 in the US and 2022 in the UK.
Wegovy is expected to become available by private prescription in the UK later this year. It is already widely available in the United States.
Thanks to the hype, demand has skyrocketed through the roof for its fat-breaking effects.
Both drugs have been in short supply due to their soaring popularity, with some doctors in the UK comparing it to the “hormone replacement panic” seen last year, which led to women meeting in car parks to swap drugs when supplies ran dry.
Semaglutide works like a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which targets areas of the brain that regulate appetite and food intake – making users feel less hungry.
It also slows down the movement of food in the gut, which helps users stay full for longer.
Clinical trials show those taking the drug lost up to 15.3kg (2 stone 6lbs), on average, over 15 months, compared to just 2.6kg (6lbs) in the placebo group.
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson revealed this month that he’s been taking Ozempic in an effort to lose weight.
He said he was introduced to the injectable drug after learning his friends were taking a “new Danish drug” to stave off diabetes and “when questioned, they all raved about it”.
The 62-year-old, who in the past has tried to slim down through healthy eating and exercise, described its effects as “truly amazing”.
When asked in October if eating a healthy diet or going to the gym was the reason for his 30 lb (13.6 kg) weight loss, Elon Musk credited “fasting” and “Wegovy.”
TikTok star Remi Bader revealed her doctor prescribed Ozempic in 2020 “before it was fashionable.”
Celebrities including Elon Musk, Jeremy Clarkson and Remy Bader have spoken about the ‘really amazing’ Ozempic, which suppresses appetite and keeps users feeling fuller for longer.
Wegovy and Ozempic work by stimulating the body to produce a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 which is naturally released from the intestines after meals.
But Ms. Bader, who has 2.2 million followers on the social media site, told the Not Skinny But Not Fat podcast that she doubled the weight she lost when she stopped taking the drug because the overeating became “much worse.” .
Meanwhile, comedian and TV presenter Chelsea Handler revealed that she took the drug after her doctor prescribed it – but said it made her feel nauseous.
“Apparently, it makes you lose your appetite,” she told Variety. But I like to have an appetite. It made me nauseous, and I don’t like feeling nauseous.
It’s also rumored that Kim Kardashian used the drug to slim down at the Met gala, after she lost 16 pounds (7.3 kg) in three weeks to fit into the iconic Marilyn Monroe dress, which she wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to then-President John. Kennedy in 1962.
Khloe Kardashian denied rumors that she had switched to semaglutide.
As with all medications, Ozempic is not completely risk-free.
Users typically complain of nausea, constipation, and diarrhea, while some also experience acid reflux, fatigue, and complain that food tastes different after taking the medication.
This is the side effect credited with helping some people lose weight – by making their favorite fast food taste bad.
Thyroid cancer, pancreatitis — when an organ becomes inflamed — and kidney failure are rare but serious side effects.
He also warned patients that their faces looked gaunt, tired, and aged—a side effect they dubbed the “Ozempic face.”
Doctors warned that while the drug is an example of “very smart science,” it is “not a panacea, because it doesn’t work for one in five patients.”
And while it may work in the short term, some will put the weight back on again – so regular exercise and a healthy diet are still needed.
Kim Kardashian is rumored to have used Wegovy to lose weight fast in order to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s famous ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ dress at the 2022 Met Gala (pictured)
Dr Simon Cork, Senior Lecturer in Physiology at Anglia Ruskin University, told MailOnline that semaglutide is ‘revolutionary in terms of treating obesity’ and the first in a class of drug to show ‘significant and long-lasting weight loss’.
“However, there are clear guidelines about who should be offered these drugs,” he warned.
So far the guidance is that these drugs are only appropriate to prescribe to obese patients.
This is because clinical trials have only been conducted in these patients, so the effects on patients who do not have this level of overweight or obesity are unclear.
‘These medications should only be taken under the supervision of a physician,’ said Dr. Cork.
There are important dosing regimens that need to be done in order for patients to be able to tolerate the side effects of these medications, which may not be adhered to if purchased online.
There are rare cases of life-threatening complications such as pancreatitis that need to be monitored.
He added: ‘It is understandable that people who are overweight will access any effective treatments that are available, particularly when the threshold for accessing them through the NHS is very high.
“But it is important to understand the risks associated with taking these medications without the supervision of medical professionals.”
Professor Naveed Sattar, a diabetes expert at the University of Glasgow, told MailOnline there wasn’t enough data yet to show whether Ozempic would prevent chronic disease among people without diabetes.
But he noted that studies show that it reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes among diabetics.
Professor Abdel-Sattar said that if people kept a lower weight than they would otherwise be, due to the drug’s appetite-suppressing effect, the risk of conditions linked to being overweight, such as diabetes or osteoporosis, would be ‘significantly reduced’.
he added: ‘[Ozempic] It should also help people maintain vitality levels and better mental health compared to a weight several kilograms heavier.
Of course, these drugs are expensive and we need long-term data to be reassured of safety but they will help people.
However, ideally, we need to change the obesity-causing environment to help people gain weight in the first place since we cannot reverse the obesity epidemic via medication or surgery alone.
Three in 10 Britons and a third of Americans are obese, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke.
Targeted at these groups, weight loss drugs can boost health and relieve pressure on health care systems.
The slimming pill previously sparked controversy after millions turned to the “miracle” appetite suppressants fenfluramine and phentermine. But the drugs harmed the heart.
Other weight loss medications are sibutramine and rimonabant. The former caused heart damage, psychosis, and suicidal thoughts, while the latter caused patients to become depressed.
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