Skip to main content

Weight Loss Treatment: Semaglutide and its Role

Nov 28, 2023
Weight Loss Treatment: Semaglutide and its Role

Numerous adults globally, approximately 650 million, suffer from obesity, a significant health issue (1). New medications such as semaglutide have emerged that are both safe and effective. They assist individuals in shedding more weight than they used to.

Obesity contributes to more than 200 different health problems. It can make your body not use insulin well, increase your blood pressure, and cause unhealthy levels of fats in your blood.

Obesity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep-breathing problems, and non-alcoholic liver disease. Additionally, it can lead to a shorter lifespan (2). In the United States, the cost to take care of health problems caused by obesity is almost $1.71 trillion (3).

Losing about 10% to 15% of your weight can help lower the chance of getting many health problems linked to obesity (1). However, many individuals struggle to achieve such weight loss solely through dietary changes and increased physical activity.

Obesity is not just a lifestyle disorder

Your genetic makeup and your environment, including where and how you live, influence your risk of developing obesity. Obesity is a tricky disease and is not just about eating too much and not exercising enough. To treat obesity effectively, we must look beyond diet and exercise as the sole solutions.

Losing weight and keeping it off is hard. Most people find it tough to follow a diet with fewer calories and to stick to an exercise plan. Your body frequently attempts to return to its previous weight (4).

For a long time, diet and exercise were the main ways to treat obesity. Now, doctors also recommend medicines like semaglutide.

This medicine is for those with a BMI over 30. Individuals with a BMI over 27 can use this medicine if they have weight-related health issues. These health issues include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or abnormal blood fats.

Old medicines for obesity helped people lose about 5% to 10% of their body weight, but that’s not enough for some. With semaglutide, people can lose 15% or more of their body weight (5).

Diagnosing obesity

Body mass index, or BMI, is a number you get from your weight and height. It helps estimate your risk of heart problems and your potential lifespan. However, BMI is not always accurate or equitable.

They initially measured only white men, and then they used it to estimate body fat levels for everyone. This means it’s not always a good way to measure body fat for all kinds of people.

BMI in diverse populations

Initially measuring only white men, it later served to estimate body fat levels for everyone. It often gives a higher risk score for heart and metabolic problems for Black Americans who aren’t Latino. This is because Black Americans usually have more muscle than fat, making their BMI higher than it should be.

But for Asian Americans, BMI might say they’re healthier than they are. For them, a BMI above 24 indicates overweight, while a BMI exceeding 27 signifies obesity (6).

BMI also fails to consider the distinctions between men and women. Women’s bodies differ from men’s, and they typically have a lower risk of heart problems before menopause compared to men of the same age.

Athletes are another group where BMI can be misleading. They frequently have greater muscle mass, leading to a potentially higher BMI. This, however, does not necessarily indicate poor health (6).

ClassificationNormalOverweightClass 1 ObesityClass 2 ObesityClass 3 Obesity
Body mass index (BMI)18.0-24.925.0-29.930.0-34.935.0-39.940.0 and higher

Lifestyle Management

In all the tests for medicines that help with obesity, eating less and exercising more are important. Creating a well-structured weight loss plan involves reducing calorie intake and engaging in regular physical activity.

This helps you lose weight and keeps your heart healthy. But, just changing your lifestyle often only leads to a little bit of weight loss, and people might gain the weight back.

Maintaining weight loss can be challenging because of the way our bodies function. Our bodies try to save energy and stop us from losing weight, which can make us slowly gain weight back (7).

As you lose fat, a hormone called leptin decreases, signaling your brain to increase food intake to prevent starvation. So, you feel hungrier, less full, and your body uses less energy.

This can make you gain weight again. Medicines for obesity, like semaglutide, help by making you less hungry, more full, and helping you keep losing weight.

A woman celebrating weight loss

Diet

Many individuals question which diet is the “best” for weight loss. The most effective diet is one that you can maintain over an extended period. It should provide you with all the essential nutrients, include various types of foods, and leave you feeling satisfied.

Scientists looked at 14 popular diets. Individuals following these diets shed approximately 9 to 10 pounds in a year (8). However, their weight loss did not significantly continue beyond that first year.

The most important thing in a diet is to eat fewer calories, not the type of diet (9). Select a diet that suits your preferences, but ensure it has a reduced calorie content.

The combination of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in a diet doesn’t precisely predict the amount of weight you’ll shed. However, it can influence your sensation of hunger. For example, eating more protein can keep your sugar levels stable and help you feel full for longer.

Losing weight and then regaining it repeatedly is detrimental to your health. Choose a diet that fits your life and what you need. To lose weight effectively, try eating 500 calories less per day than what you need to stay at your current weight.

To keep track of your diet, use journals, calorie counters, and photos. Pay attention to your food intake and aim to consume fresh, minimally processed foods. Consider food as a source of energy for your body. If you eat for other reasons, like to feel better or less stressed, you might find it harder to keep weight off.

Exercise

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend that adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. They should also engage in exercises that strengthen their muscles twice a week, targeting all the major muscle groups.

To lose weight or keep it off, you should do moderate exercise for at least 300 minutes a week. If you’re short on time, think about adding more vigorous exercises. However, keep in mind that exercise alone may not lead to significant weight loss. Eating fewer calories and exercising can lead to losing 5% to 15% of your weight.

Some people exercise a lot, doing hard workouts for a long time. They may expend 500 to 700 calories during each session. While this requires a significant time commitment, it can contribute to weight loss.

Exercise is crucial for maintaining weight, as well as for the well-being of your heart and your body’s energy processing. However, do keep in mind to monitor your food intake while exercising. Sometimes people eat more after exercising, which can make them gain weight.

How does semaglutide work for weight loss?

Semaglutide is a medicine that acts like the GLP-1 hormone your body naturally makes. Semaglutide is a bit different and in a higher dose. Special cells in your intestines release this hormone when you eat. It attaches to places in your pancreas, stomach lining, kidneys, brain, and heart.

The pancreas makes insulin, a hormone that moves sugar from your blood into your cells for energy. Glucagon does the opposite; it raises your blood sugar. Semaglutide helps your body make more insulin and less glucagon, which lowers your blood sugar.

It also keeps your blood vessels safe from too much sugar, lowering the risk of heart problems, strokes, and blood vessel diseases. Semaglutide slows down how fast your stomach empties, so food stays there longer. You experience a greater sense of fullness, consume fewer calories, and eat less. This helps with weight loss and managing blood sugar.

GLP-1, along with insulin and amylin, signals to your brain that you’re full and don’t need more food. The hypothalamus, a part of your brain, controls hunger and energy (1). Other brain areas affect how much you eat, based on feelings, rewards, memories, decisions, and hunger. This explains why you might consume food when experiencing emotions like sadness, happiness, or boredom.

Semaglutide is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating type 2 diabetes and obesity. It lowers blood sugar and A1C (a blood test for diabetes), reduces hunger, and reduces cravings for food. This makes it a good medicine for treating obesity (5).

Clinical trials and Semaglutide effectiveness

During the STEP clinical trials, researchers tested Semaglutide on individuals with obesity. The participants who took Semaglutide achieved a significant weight loss. They shed approximately 14.9% to 17.4% of their body weight within 68 weeks. This was much more weight loss compared to people who just followed a diet and exercise plan and didn’t take the medicine (7).

Most of the weight they lost was body fat. Besides losing weight, Semaglutide also helped with other health benefits:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Made waistlines smaller
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Lowered the risk of getting type 2 diabetes

STEP 1 Clinical Trial (Large pivotal and initial trial)

Step 1 was a 68-week study involving 1,961 adults. They had obesity or a BMI of 27 or higher, and at least one weight-related health issue. Those who took semaglutide lost approximately 14.9% of their body weight. In contrast, the placebo group experienced only a 2.4% weight loss.

This was approximately 34 pounds in weight. Everyone in the study got a lot of advice on how to live healthier. They ate fewer calories and exercised for at least 150 minutes every week.

Most people taking semaglutide lost a good amount of weight. Over 86% lost at least 5% of their body weight, about 69% lost at least 10%, over half lost at least 15%, and a third lost 20% or more (2, 5). These results are similar to what you might anticipate from weight loss surgery. Those who took semaglutide also saw improvements in other health areas.

The main side effects were feeling sick and having diarrhea, but these didn’t last long. About 4.5% of the people stopped taking semaglutide because of side effects. More people in the semaglutide group had gallbladder problems. This is a known issue with GLP-1 medicines and rapid weight loss (2).

In a follow-up part of the trial, 232 people stopped taking semaglutide. They observed these individuals for a year, along with 101 people who had received the placebo. Both groups gained back about two-thirds of the weight they lost. The semaglutide group kept only about 5.6% of their weight loss and lost a lot of the heart health benefits they had gained (10).

This study shows that we should see obesity as a long-term disease. If you stop taking semaglutide after losing weight, you might gain weight back. Working with a doctor to create a comprehensive weight loss plan is important.

Semaglutde Weight Loss Treatment

STEP  2 Clinical Trial (weight loss in type 2 diabetes)

The STEP 2 trial involved 1,210 people who had type 2 diabetes and were either overweight or obese. The goal was to see how well two different doses of semaglutide worked: 1.0 mg and 2.4 mg.

People who took the higher dose of 2.4 mg semaglutide lost about 9.6% of their body weight. Individuals who took the lower dose of 1.0 mg experienced a weight loss of approximately 7%.

Studies show that it’s harder for people with type 2 diabetes to lose weight compared to those who don’t have diabetes (11).

STEP 3 Clinical Trial (weight loss in combination with intensive behavioral therapy)

The Step 3 clinical trial divided 611 participants into two groups. One group received semaglutide and the other a placebo. Alongside this treatment, they received comprehensive counseling aimed at improving their health behavior.

After 68 weeks, those who took semaglutide achieved an impressive average weight loss of around 16%. Those in the placebo group had a considerably smaller weight loss of only 5.7%.

The results from this trial resembled what the Step 1 trial observed. These findings show that you don’t necessarily need intensive behavioral therapy to lose a lot of weight.

This is important to know because changing your behavior and habits only leads to a 5% to 10% weight loss. This is often inadequate for many individuals who are obese (5).

STEP 4: Clinical Trial (weight loss maintenance after continuing or withdrawing semaglutide)

The STEP 4 clinical trial involved 803 people who were overweight or obese but didn’t have diabetes. All of them used semaglutide for a duration of 20 weeks. After that, some kept taking semaglutide, while others switched to a placebo. At this point, they had achieved an average weight loss of 10.6%.

The group that continued with semaglutide lost an average of 7.9% more body weight. But the group that switched to the placebo gained back an average of 6.9% of their weight. People who kept losing weight during the first 20 weeks of the trial kept losing more as long as they stayed on semaglutide. Individuals who switched to the placebo began to experience weight gain.

Around 40% of the people who stayed on semaglutide lost another 10% of their body weight. This added to a total weight loss of 20%. This trial shows how important it is to treat obesity as an ongoing health issue. Same for how we treat long-term conditions like high blood pressure (4).

Step 5 Clinical Trial (weight loss maintenance after two years)

The STEP 5 clinical trial had 304 adults who were overweight or obese. They received either semaglutide or a placebo for a duration of 104 weeks. They also followed a diet with fewer calories and did more physical activity. The goal was to see if people would stop losing weight after a while on semaglutide.

The people who took semaglutide lost about 15.2% of their body weight on average. Individuals who received the placebo experienced a weight loss of approximately 2.6%. Besides losing weight, the people who took semaglutide also had better heart health. They also experienced (12): 

  • a smaller waist by about 14.4 cm
  • lower blood pressure (5.7 mm Hg less for the top number and 4.5 mm Hg less for the bottom number)
  • a 0.42% drop in Hb A1c (a diabetes test)
  • 7.6 mg/dL lower fasting blood sugar
  • a 19 mg/dL drop in triglycerides, which are fats in the blood

Step 6 Clinical Trial (East Asia population trial)

The STEP 6 clinical trial included 401 adults from Japan and Korea. These adults either had a BMI (body mass index) of 27 or more with at least two weight-related health problems or a BMI of 35 or more with at least one such problem. They received either 1.7 mg of semaglutide, 2.4 mg of semaglutide, or a placebo for a duration of 68 weeks.

The people who took 2.4 mg of semaglutide lost about 13.2% of their body weight on average. In comparison, the people who got the placebo lost only 2.1% of their body weight (13).

Step 7 Clinical Trial (Chinese population trial)

The STEP 7 clinical trial included 376 Chinese adults. Some of these adults had type 2 diabetes, and all were either overweight or obese. They received either 2.4 mg of semaglutide or a placebo. Despite concluding in August 2022, the study has not yet disclosed its results.

STEP 8 Clinical Trial (Comparing semaglutide and liraglutide)

In the Step 8 clinical trial, 338 people participated. They either got a weekly dose of semaglutide (2.4 mg) or a daily dose of liraglutide (3.0 mg). Everyone in the trial ate fewer calories and did regular exercise.

The people who took semaglutide lost about 15.8% of their body weight on average. But those who took liraglutide lost about 6.4%.

More people taking liraglutide either stopped using it or took breaks from it. This could be because the shorter duration of liraglutide’s effectiveness in the body. When a medication has a shorter duration of action, individuals may experience sudden increases in hunger. This can lead them to perceive liraglutide as less effective (14).

STEP Teens Trial

This study included 201 teenagers who were either overweight or obese. They received either semaglutide or a placebo, while also adhering to a reduced-calorie diet and engaging in exercise.

The teenagers who took semaglutide lost about 16% of their body weight, which is a lot. They also saw improvements in their health, like a smaller waist and better levels of fats in their blood (15).

A person standing on a scale

Potential side effects and precautions of Semaglutide

People frequently report experiencing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when they take semaglutide. These side effects are stronger when they first start taking it and after the dose changes. However, most individuals report that these symptoms diminish over time.

Two clinical trials, SUSTAIN and PIONEER, checked if semaglutide was safe and worked well. Ten trials looked at the safety of semaglutide as a pill and as a shot in different groups of people.

Common side effects of semaglutide and similar medicines (GLP-1s) include:

  • Nausea (44%): Eat smaller meals more often.
  • Vomiting (24%): Eat plain, small meals. If you can’t drink enough water, call your doctor.
  • Diarrhea (30%): Eat a diet low in fat.
  • Constipation (24%): Eat more fiber and drink more water. Exercise during the day.
  • Abdominal pain (20%): Talk to your doctor.
  • Headache (14%): Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Check your blood sugar if you have type 2 diabetes.
  • Fatigue (11%): Eat small meals often with complex carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. Sleep well, as sleep disruption contributes to weight gain.
  • Indigestion (9%): Stay up for about 30 minutes after eating. Don’t eat 2 hours before bed. Raise the head of your bed.
  • Dizziness (8%): Get up slowly. Drink plenty of fluids. Check your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
  • Bloating (7%): Watch what you eat to see what makes it worse. Chew your food well.
  • Gastroenteritis (4%): Drink enough water.
  • GERD: Stay up for about 30 minutes after eating. Don’t eat 2 hours before bed. Raise the head of your bed.
  • Injection site reactions: You might get redness and pain where you got the shot.

Serious side effects of semaglutide and similar medicines can include (16):

  • Diabetic eye problems in people with type 2 diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Sudden kidney problems
  • Allergic reactions
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Pain or redness where you got the shot
  • Faster heart rate
  • Very low blood sugar
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Pancreas inflammation
  • Intestinal blockage

During the tests, the most frequent side effects included nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. The majority of these side effects were mild and of short duration. Most often, these side effects occurred when people first started semaglutide treatment or when the dose was raised (1). 

Higher doses made these stomach problems happen more often. Raising the dose slowly can help with this (16).

If your stomach often feels upset, try:

  • Eating slowly
  • To eat smaller meals
  • Stopping when you’re full
  • Avoiding fatty foods

Pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant shouldn’t take semaglutide. Semaglutide is also not for people with certain types of thyroid cancer, a syndrome called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, a history of pancreatitis, or an allergy to semaglutide (1).

Semaglutide makes your stomach empty more slowly, which can change how other medicines work. 

If you take insulin or other diabetes medicines, talk to your doctor about changing the dose. Taking them with semaglutide can make your blood sugar go too low.

Thyroid cancer

Semaglutide has an official warning about thyroid C-cell tumors. This warning comes from studies on rodents where the risk of these tumors went up with higher doses or longer treatment. These findings aren’t from studies on humans (16).

Symptoms of thyroid cancer can include:

  • A new lump or mass in the neck
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Feeling short of breath
  • A hoarse voice that doesn’t go away

Comparison with other weight-loss treatments

There are currently six medications approved in the United States for treating obesity. Historically, the most effective weight-loss medications acted in the brain and suppressed appetite.

The GLP-1 RAs (liraglutide, semaglutide, and the combination medication, tirzepatide) act in the brain and more peripherally.

The approved prescription medications for weight loss include:

Orlistat

Orlistat works by blocking about 30% of fat absorption in the intestines. When fat isn’t digested and absorbed, it reduces the number of calories your body takes in. This process helps with weight loss.

Common side effects of Orlistat include:

  • Decreased absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Excessive gas.
  • An urgent need to have a bowel movement.

On average, people taking Orlistat lose about 6.5 to 7.5 pounds per year. Because of this relatively modest weight loss, Orlistat is considered a less popular option for weight loss treatment (17, 18).

Naltrexone/Bupropion

Contrave is a medication that combines two drugs: bupropion, an antidepressant that also inhibits the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, and naltrexone, which blocks opioid receptors. This combination helps people fight off cravings and food addictions.

However, you shouldn’t use Bupropion/Naltrexone (Contrave) if you have certain health conditions, like:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure.
  • A history of seizures.
  • A history of eating disorders.
  • If you are withdrawing from drugs or alcohol.

Studies have shown that people taking Contrave lose an average of about 11 pounds over the course of a year (17).

Phentermine/Topiramate

Phentermine and topiramate, when combined, are effective in promoting weight loss. Phentermine stimulates the nervous system as an adrenergic agonist, while topiramate is primarily employed to prevent seizures. This combination is particularly common for treating people with obesity who also suffer from migraine headaches. The combination of these two medications tends to be more effective for weight loss and generally results in fewer side effects than when each medication is used on its own.

However, it’s important to note that phentermine/topiramate is not suitable for everyone. It should not be prescribed to individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, or a sensitivity to stimulants. Additionally, there are concerns regarding the use of this medication combination during pregnancy, as it may cause harm to the fetus. Therefore, it is not recommended for use by those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Various studies have shown that the use of phentermine/topiramate can lead to an average weight loss of between 14.5 and 19 pounds over the course of a year (17, 18).

Liraglutide

Liraglutide is a medication known as a GLP-1 receptor agonist, which is administered daily through a subcutaneous injection. Its primary function is to decrease appetite and reduce the overall energy intake by about 16% compared to a placebo. Clinical trials have shown that people taking liraglutide tend to lose significantly more weight than those taking a placebo or Orlistat. The side effects of liraglutide are similar to those of semaglutide, another medication in the same category.

The SCALE clinical trials have provided further insight into liraglutide’s effectiveness. On average, participants who took liraglutide lost about 11 pounds more than those who were given a placebo. During the one-year duration of these trials, about 63% of the participants lost at least 5% of their body weight, and just over one-third lost 10% (1).

Additionally, the LEADER clinical trials have highlighted another significant benefit of liraglutide. It has been found to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, particularly in individuals who are already at a higher risk for these conditions.

Tirzepatide

Tirzepatide is a combination of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and GLP-1. It works on two receptors that control hunger and appetite, leading to higher levels of weight loss. Scientists tested tirzepatide’s effectiveness in treating type 2 diabetes in the SURPASS clinical trials and obesity in the SURMOUNT clinical trials.

In the SURMOUNT trials, participants who received the highest dose of tirzepatide (15 mg) along with lifestyle counseling lost an impressive 20.9% of their body weight over the 72-week trial. Over half of these participants lost at least 20% of their body weight, and 36% of those taking the 15 mg dose of tirzepatide lost at least 25% (19).

Tirzepatide’s actions include (19):

  • Decreasing stomach emptying, which reduces hunger.
  • Promoting satiety by acting in key areas of the brain.
  • Increasing insulin secretion from the pancreas.
  • Enhancing insulin sensitivity in the liver.
  • Accelerating fat breakdown.

Semaglutide

Semaglutide is the newest medication approved for treating obesity, and an oral form of semaglutide is already approved for managing type 2 diabetes. Currently, clinical trials are being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of an oral dose of semaglutide in treating obesity.

Alongside semaglutide, there are other combination medications in development aimed at obesity treatment. These include a medication that combines amylin and semaglutide, Danuglipron which is an oral GLP-1 receptor agonist being tested for obesity, a higher-dose formulation of Rybelsus specifically for obesity treatment, and LY3437943, a triple receptor agonist also targeted for obesity treatment.

Weight Loss Treatment: Semaglutide and its Role

Semaglutide dosage and administration

Semaglutide, when used for treating obesity, is administered as a once-weekly injection. The dosage is carefully and gradually increased over several weeks until it reaches the maintenance level. Initially, a dose of 0.25 mg is given just under the skin, which can be in the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm.

This initial dose is administered once a week for four weeks. After that, the dose is increased every four weeks. This process continues over a total of 16 weeks until the maintenance dose of 2.4 mg per week is achieved (1).

Semaglutide dosing instructions

WeekDosage
Weeks 1-40.25 mgIf the 2.4 mg dose is not tolerated, stay at the 1.7 mg dose for another four weeks and then increase the dose to 2.4 mg.
Weeks 5-80.5 mg
Weeks 9-121.0 mg
Weeks 13-161.7 mg
Weeks 17 and after2.4 mg 

If you miss a dose of semaglutide and your next scheduled dose is more than two days away, you should take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it has been more than five days since the missed dose, you should skip it altogether. In this case, just continue with your regular dosing schedule and take the next dose of semaglutide on the usual day you’re scheduled to do so (7).

Success stories and testimonials from Semaglutide users

Users of Wegovy (semaglutide) on drugs.com have rated the medication with an average satisfaction score of 7.2 out of 10. Reviewers commonly report side effects like gas, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. Some have found that changing their diet helps manage these side effects, while others have found the side effects severe enough to stop taking the medication. 

Despite these issues, the majority of reviewers express satisfaction with the weight loss they’ve achieved, noting reduced cravings for unhealthy foods, decreased appetite, and less frequent thoughts about food throughout the day.

On WebMD.com, Wegovy has received a rating of 4 out of 5 from users. Wegovy is highly regarded for its effectiveness and ease of use. However, the overall satisfaction scores are slightly lower, with users mentioning challenges in obtaining the medication and side effects like nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and hair loss as common concerns.

Semaglutide availability and cost

Semaglutide, marketed as Wegovy, is priced at approximately $1,400 per month for individuals paying in cash. Although Medicare does not currently cover Wegovy, more insurance companies are beginning to add it to their medication plans (6). Despite its high cost, semaglutide’s effectiveness in promoting weight loss is evident. Balancing the financial and health costs of obesity against the expense of semaglutide is crucial in determining its value.

In 2021, Novo Nordisk, the company that produces Wegovy, reported production shortages, impacting the availability of the medication for people with obesity. However, generic and compounded versions of the medication are accessible via prescription after an online consultation with a healthcare provider from Invigor Medical.

Novo Nordisk provides a savings card for both insured and uninsured individuals.

According to their website, people with private or commercial insurance covering Wegovy can save up to $225.00 per 28-day supply, with this offer valid until 12/31/2023. Those with commercial insurance that does not cover Wegovy or who are paying in cash can save $500 per 28-day supply, with activation required by 12/31/23.

The program’s restrictions include:

  • Having a valid prescription with a valid prescriber ID number.
  • Being commercially insured.
  • Having insurance that provides coverage for Wegovy.
  • Not being enrolled in any federal or state health plan, such as Medicaid, Medicare, Medigap, DOD, VA, or TRICARE.
  • Not participating in a zero-copay or full cash-paying insurance program.
  • Residing in the United States and its territories.
  • Not using the offer with a non-insurance plan.

In comparison, Invigor Medical offers semaglutide at $370 per month

Frequently asked questions about Semaglutide and weight loss

What is semaglutide, and how does it work?

Semaglutide is part of a medication group called GLP-1 receptor agonists. It works similarly to the GLP-1 hormone that your intestines release after you eat. GLP-1 helps the body make insulin, which is important for controlling blood sugar. Semaglutide attaches to GLP-1 receptors in the brain, which helps to reduce appetite. It also slows down how fast your stomach empties, which makes you feel fuller for a longer time and reduces cravings. This can make it easier to lose weight.

Who is a good candidate for semaglutide?

Semaglutide is recommended for adults who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, or for those with a BMI of 27 or higher if they also have at least one weight-related health issue, like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.

However, certain individuals should not take semaglutide. This includes people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as those with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. It’s also not suitable for individuals with a history of pancreatitis or those who are allergic to semaglutide or any of its components.

How is semaglutide administered?

Semaglutide is given as a self-administered injection under the skin once a week. The dosing begins with 0.25 mg per week for the first four weeks. After that, the dose is increased to 0.5 mg per week for the next four weeks. Every four weeks, the dosage is further increased, until reaching the maintenance dose of 2.4 mg. This gradual increase in the dosage is intended to reduce gastrointestinal side effects that might occur with the medication.

What are the possible side effects of semaglutide?

Like all medications, semaglutide can have side effects. Common ones include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. Generally, these side effects lessen over time. They can often be managed by making changes to your diet, drinking more fluids, and using medications to alleviate the symptoms.

Semaglutide may also lead to some rare but serious side effects, such as pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, a heightened risk of thyroid cancer, and allergic reactions. It’s important for your healthcare provider to keep an eye on you for these side effects while you’re taking semaglutide.

What are the long-term effects of semaglutide?

Semaglutide has demonstrated encouraging outcomes in clinical trials, particularly in aiding weight loss. In one study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, participants lost an average of 15% of their body weight over a year. However, it’s important to remember that semaglutide is a relatively new medication, and therefore, its long-term effects are still not fully understood.

Conclusion: Is Semaglutide the game-changer in weight loss treatment?

Researchers at Northwestern University initially speculated that semaglutide could be a ‘game changer’ for individuals with overweight and obesity. This speculation was confirmed through several clinical trials, establishing semaglutide as one of the most effective weight-loss medications available today. In fact, its effectiveness is comparable to the results typically achieved through weight-loss surgery.

Semaglutide stands out from its predecessors due to its unique action mechanism and remarkable effectiveness. Its safety and efficacy have been validated in numerous clinical trials. When combined with a diet that has reduced calories and a regular exercise program, semaglutide offers a comprehensive and effective approach for individuals who are working to manage obesity.

Disclaimer
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

References

  • Chao AM, Tronieri JS, Amaro A, Wadden TA. Semaglutide for the treatment of obesity. Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2023;33(3):159-166.
  • Wilding JPH, Batterham RL, Calanna S, Davies M, Van Gaal LF, Lingvay I, McGowan BM, Rosenstock J, Tran MTD, Wadden TA, Wharton S, Yokote K, Zeuthen N, Kushner RF. Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity. N Engl J Med. 2021;384(11):989-1002.
  • Ghusn W, De la Rosa A, Sacoto D, Cifuentes L, Campos A, Feris F, Hurtado MD, Acosta A. Weight Loss Outcomes Associated With Semaglutide Treatment for Patients With Overweight or Obesity. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(9):e2231982.
  • Rubino D, Abrahamsson N, Davies M, Hesse D, Greenway FL, Jensen C, Lingvay I, Mosenzon O, Rosenstock J, Rubio MA, Rudofsky G, Tadayon S, Wadden TA, Dicker D. Effect of Continued Weekly Subcutaneous Semaglutide vs Placebo on Weight Loss Maintenance in Adults With Overweight or Obesity: The STEP 4 Randomized Clinical Trial. Jama. 2021;325(14):1414-1425.
  • Wadden TA, Bailey TS, Billings LK, Davies M, Frias JP, Koroleva A, Lingvay I, O’Neil PM, Rubino DM, Skovgaard D, Wallenstein SOR, Garvey WT, Investigators S. Effect of Subcutaneous Semaglutide vs Placebo as an Adjunct to Intensive Behavioral Therapy on Body Weight in Adults With Overweight or Obesity: The STEP 3 Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2021;325(14):1403-1413.
  • UCSF Department of Medicine. Multimodal Treatment of Obesity: Lifestyle Interventions, Medications & Bariatric Surgery. YouTube2023.
  • Bergmann NC, Davies MJ, Lingvay I, Knop FK. Semaglutide for the treatment of overweight and obesity: A review. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2023;25(1):18-35.
  • Ge L, Sadeghirad B, Ball GDC, da Costa BR, Hitchcock CL, Svendrovski A, Kiflen R, Quadri K, Kwon HY, Karamouzian M, Adams-Webber T, Ahmed W, Damanhoury S, Zeraatkar D, Nikolakopoulou A, Tsuyuki RT, Tian J, Yang K, Guyatt GH, Johnston BC. Comparison of dietary macronutrient patterns of 14 popular named dietary programmes for weight and cardiovascular risk factor reduction in adults: systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomised trials. Bmj. 2020;369:m696.
  • Bray GA, Heisel WE, Afshin A, Jensen MD, Dietz WH, Long M, Kushner RF, Daniels SR, Wadden TA, Tsai AG, Hu FB, Jakicic JM, Ryan DH, Wolfe BM, Inge TH. The Science of Obesity Management: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. Endocr Rev. 2018;39(2):79-132.
  • Wilding JPH, Batterham RL, Davies M, Van Gaal LF, Kandler K, Konakli K, Lingvay I, McGowan BM, Oral TK, Rosenstock J, Wadden TA, Wharton S, Yokote K, Kushner RF. Weight regain and cardiometabolic effects after withdrawal of semaglutide: The STEP 1 trial extension. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2022;24(8):1553-1564.
  • Davies M, Færch L, Jeppesen OK, Pakseresht A, Pedersen SD, Perreault L, Rosenstock J, Shimomura I, Viljoen A, Wadden TA, Lingvay I. Semaglutide 2·4 mg once a week in adults with overweight or obesity, and type 2 diabetes (STEP 2): a randomised, double-blind, double-dummy, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial. The Lancet. 2021;397(10278):971-984.
  • Garvey WT, Batterham RL, Bhatta M, Buscemi S, Christensen LN, Frias JP, Jódar E, Kandler K, Rigas G, Wadden TA, Wharton S. Two-year effects of semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity: the STEP 5 trial. Nat Med. 2022;28(10):2083-2091.
  • Kadowaki T, Isendahl J, Khalid U, Lee SY, Nishida T, Ogawa W, Tobe K, Yamauchi T, Lim S. Semaglutide once a week in adults with overweight or obesity, with or without type 2 diabetes in an east Asian population (STEP 6): a randomised, double-blind, double-dummy, placebo-controlled, phase 3a trial. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2022;10(3):193-206.
  • Rubino DM, Greenway FL, Khalid U, O’Neil PM, Rosenstock J, Sørrig R, Wadden TA, Wizert A, Garvey WT. Effect of Weekly Subcutaneous Semaglutide vs Daily Liraglutide on Body Weight in Adults With Overweight or Obesity Without Diabetes: The STEP 8 Randomized Clinical Trial. Jama. 2022;327(2):138-150.
  • Weghuber D, Barrett T, Barrientos-Pérez M, Gies I, Hesse D, Jeppesen OK, Kelly AS, Mastrandrea LD, Sørrig R, Arslanian S. Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adolescents with Obesity. N Engl J Med. 2022;387(24):2245-2257.
  • Smits MM, Van Raalte DH. Safety of Semaglutide. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2021;12:645563.
  • Singh AK, Singh R. Pharmacotherapy in obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of anti-obesity drugs. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2020;13(1):53-64.
  • Srivastava G, Apovian CM. Current pharmacotherapy for obesity. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2018;14(1):12-24.
  • Jastreboff AM, Aronne LJ, Ahmad NN, Wharton S, Connery L, Alves B, Kiyosue A, Zhang S, Liu B, Bunck MC, Stefanski A. Tirzepatide Once Weekly for the Treatment of Obesity. N Engl J Med. 2022;387(3):205-216.

Tags:

Questions?
Fill out the form below, and one of our treatment specialists will contact you.

Featured Articles

Weight Loss Treatment: Semaglutide and its Role

Urologists: Who Are They And What Procedures Do They Offer?

A urologist is a physician who has been specially trained to diagnose and treat any condition related to the urinary system and the male reproductive system.
Weight Loss Treatment: Semaglutide and its Role

Glutathione: Things To Avoid While Taking It

Glutathione is called the “master antioxidant” and not without reason. It is used by every cell in the body to detoxify toxins, whether they are byproducts of metabolism, drugs, or envi…
Trimix

Medication Information: Trimix

Everything you need to know about Trimix.