Semaglutide is an injectable glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist that is FDA approved for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight with at least one weight-related condition (such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol). Administered once weekly, Semaglutide was originally approved in 2017 — at a much lower dose — to help control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes under the brand name Ozempic (also Wegovy®, Ozempic®, and Rybelsus®). People taking Ozempic to help control blood sugar also tend to lose weight as an additional benefit, which prompted the approval for weight loss. Semaglutide should be used in combination with lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet and exercise.

How Does it Work for Weight Loss?

GLP-1 is an incretin hormone that plays a role in your appetite and digestion. Incretins — hormones released by your small intestine — are sent out by your body after you’ve eaten a meal to help lower your blood sugar by triggering insulin and blocking other sources of sugar.

It also slows down how quickly food leaves your stomach (called gastric emptying). The result of these actions causes you to feel full, lowering your appetite and causing you to lose weight. GLP-1 agonists, like Semaglutide, are referred to as incretin mimetics since they “mimic” these effects.

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Loss of Initial Body Weight

The largest clinical trial showed that people using semaglutide lost an average of 14.9% of their initial body weight — 12.4% more than those who didn’t use the peptide.


First of Its Kind

Semaglutide is the first once-weekly peptide medication in its class that’s FDA-approved to help with chronic weight management when used in combination with diet and exercise.

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Who Can Take Semaglutide?

Adults who have obesity, with a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30; or overweight, with a BMI greater than 27 accompanied by weight-related medical problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. (BMI is a measure used to determine weight categories.) The medication is not recommended for those with a personal or family history of certain endocrine or thyroid tumors, specifically, medullary thyroid cancer.*

What Are the Side Effects? 

The side effects for semaglutide are minimal.  The most common side effects  are gastrointestinal—and include nausea—but this can be managed by adjusting the dosage. 

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*Semaglutide injection may increase the risk that you will develop tumors of the thyroid gland, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC; a type of thyroid cancer). Laboratory animals who were given semaglutide developed tumors, but it is not known if this medication increases the risk of tumors in humans. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has or has ever had MTC or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2; condition that causes tumors in more than one gland in the body). If so, your doctor will probably tell you not to use semaglutide injection. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: a lump or swelling in the neck; hoarseness; difficulty swallowing; or shortness of breath.

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