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New Weight Loss Products: Ozempic and Obex

Obesity rates are a massive global health problem.1 Unfortunately, there are few medications available to manage obesity.1 Those struggling with obesity face health conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, and a shortened life expectancy.1 Because so many people live with obesity and the disease’s collateral conditions, the market for weight loss products and drugs is highly competitive. Finally, the off-label use of these drugs has risks that may not outweigh the benefits.

Medications for managing obesity

Ozempic® has recently gained a lot of traction on social media as the go-to weight loss drug.2 For instance, videos showcasing Ozempic® have been viewed hundreds of millions of times on the social platform TikTok.2 

As with any trending topic on social media, it is important to be wary of the spread of misinformation. For example, social media influencers have been promoting Ozempic® as a tool for rapid weight loss, but the medication is only approved as a treatment for type 2 diabetes.2 It is important to recognize that Ozempic® is not currently approved for weight loss or chronic weight management. 

Another essential factor to consider is that the drug promotes proteolysis, which means a loss of muscle tissue; muscle is crucial for long-term body composition changes, metabolic functions, disease prevention, and functional living.

Due to the media spread, Ozempic® has flown off the shelves in many pharmacies, with global shortages occurring and expected to continue.2 This shortage of Ozempic® is due to it increasingly being prescribed for off-label use for weight loss instead of its intended use for managing type 2 diabetes.3

Ozempic® and alternatives

Ozempic® is a brand of the medication semaglutide that is injected weekly.3  This medication has only been approved to help lower blood sugar levels (circulating sugar in the blood) of those with type 2 diabetes.3 

When we consume a meal, our bodies naturally produce the hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). The purpose of GLP-1 is to increase insulin levels in the blood and lower levels of blood sugar. Semaglutide contains a protein that mimics glucagon-like peptide 1.1 Therefore, injecting semaglutide is intended to replace the dysfunctional or lacking GLP-1 response and help lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes.3

Obex® is a weight loss product made with natural antioxidants.Given that Obex® is sold as a nutritional supplement, it can be purchased without a prescription, unlike Ozempic®. The safety and efficacy of Obex® in overweight and obese patients was recently published in an article in the journal BioMed Central Complementary Medicine and Therapies.4

Recent trials on Ozempic® & Obex® 

A recent trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine found an average weight loss of 14.9% over 68 weeks in study participants taking Ozempic®.1 The trial using Obex® found that over 12 weeks, study participants taking the nutritional supplement in conjunction with lifestyle modifications lost at least 5% of their starting weight.4 

These data suggest that both Ozempic® and Obex® can be effective weight loss products. However, it is still important to recognize that Ozempic® has not yet been approved for this use and comes with greater risks than its alternative.5

Side effects of weight loss products

When taking a medication or supplement, safety is an essential consideration. Researchers found that Ozempic® frequently resulted in nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation.1 In fact, 74.2% of participants receiving Ozempic® experienced some mild form of these side effects.1 Also, about 10% of participants receiving Ozempic® experienced serious adverse events.1

Researchers in the Obex® trial found that the nutritional supplement did not result in any rashes, headaches, upset stomachs, or bloating.4 Only one of the eighty participants receiving Obex® experienced nausea.4  

Additional benefits 

Since Ozempic® is approved as a treatment for diabetes, it is expected that there are effects on insulin. A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that semaglutide was able to reduce insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes consistently.6 The use of Obex® in combination with healthy lifestyle changes has also been shown to decrease insulin resistance.4

Are weight loss products right for you?

Whether either of these weight loss products could be beneficial should be a discussion reserved between you and your healthcare provider. It is critical to be cautious about information being spread on social media about these products.  Get informed by seeking input from your doctor.

References

  1. Wilding JPH, Batterham RL, Calanna S, Davies M, Van Gaal LF, Lingvay I, McGowan BM, Rosenstock J, Tran M T D, Wadden T A, Wharton S, Yokote K, Zeuthen N, Kushner R F, STEP 1 Study Group (2021). Once-weekly semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity. The New England Journal of Medicine, 384(11), 989–1002. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2032183
  2. Burki T. (2022). Social media and misinformation in diabetes and obesity. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 10(12), 845. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(22)00318-7
  3. About the Ozempic (Semaglutide) shortage 2022 and 2023. (April 8, 2023). Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-specific-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023.
  4. Cabrera-Rode E, Cubas-Dueñas I, Acosta J R, Hernández JC, González A I C, Calero T M G, Domínguez Y A, Rodríguez J H, Rodríguez A D R, Álvarez Álvarez A, Valdés R E, Espinosa L J, Belent O T, Benavides Z B, Estévez E S, Rodríguez Y A, Del Valle Rodríguez J, Juliá S M (2023). Efficacy and safety of Obex® in overweight and obese subjects: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 23(1), 58. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-023-03847-7
  5. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/209637lbl.pdf. Published December 2017. 
  6. Fonseca, V. A., Capehorn, M. S., Garg, S. K., Jódar Gimeno, E., Hansen, O. H., Holst, A. G., Nayak, G., & Seufert, J. (2019). Reductions in insulin resistance are mediated primarily via weight loss in subjects with type 2 diabetes on semaglutide. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, jc.2018-02685. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2018-02685
Andrew Mihalache
Andrew Mihalache
Andrew Mihalache is an enthusiastic learner with a specialization in human physiology at the University of Western Ontario. He possesses a strong passion for epidemiology and medical research and aspires to become a clinician-researcher dedicated to innovating patient healthcare in the future.
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