Recent reports have found that popular weight loss drugs, such as Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy, can be linked to a variety of side effects.
GIP and GLP–1 receptor agonists, like Mounjaro, and GLP–1 receptor agonists, like Ozempic and Wegovy, are administered weekly via a shot. Initially sold as diabetes medications, due to their ability to produce insulin and lower blood sugar, Wegovy was recently FDA–approved for weight loss.
Unfortunately, these drugs — commonly seen as a miracle cure for losing weight — can come with a variety of physical and psychological side effects.
The most common physical side effects reported by patients and found on the website for Ozempic include nausea, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting. Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic and Wegovy, has also noted that “adverse reactions…are gastrointestinal related.”
But beyond nausea and other digestive symptoms, 10% of patients taking these medications have to take them off due to the severe effects they have, such as gallbladder issues, kidney failure, and cancer.
Model and TikTok star Remi Bader recently confessed that when prescribed Ozempic for her pre–diabetes, it led her to intense binge eating.
Eating disorder experts warn that hunger suppressants like these can lead to or worsen such disorders, and while some physical side effects can be avoided with careful supervision, the psychological effects of the drugs can be especially damaging.
The “gut–brain connection,” as it is known, can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression when a patient is dealing with constant abdominal pain and unpredictable digestive issues. Laurie A. Keefer, an academic health psychologist and the Director for Psychobehavioral Research, said these symptoms leave patients feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and embarrassed.
Keefer warned that this anxiety can cause patients to avoid social activities, especially ones in which food is the focus, and can worsen the gastrointestinal symptoms creating a vicious cycle.
The risks associated with taking these drugs, however, are closely linked to the long–term risks of obesity. According to the CDC, those with overweight or obesity are at an increased risk for serious diseases or health conditions like hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
Dr. Meera Shah, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, said that it is still unclear what long–term effects these drugs can have, adding, “There’s a little bit of an unknown in terms of long term.”
Those looking for an effective strategy for sustained weight loss and maintenance should consult a doctor or registered dietitian.