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By now you have probably heard the news…There is a class of diabetes drugs that can help anyone, even the non-diabetic, achieve significant weight loss. This weight loss benefit has made these medications incredibly popular, even causing occasional supply shortages across the country.

Despite their popularity, it is still very important to understand the overall effectiveness of these drugs and to discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits of taking them.

Dr. David Shaker, an internal medicine physician with Holy Name, is sure to remind patients to carefully consider their individual needs and circumstances, and to develop a comprehensive weight loss plan that incorporates a healthy diet and exercise.

"Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss," Dr. Shaker says. "You have to find what’s best for you, incorporating better eating habits and physical activity, potentially along with medications and surgical options."

Two of the most popular medications now being used for weight-loss are Mounjaro and Ozempic. Both are classified as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists, capable of regulating blood sugar within the treatment of type-2 diabetes and contributing to an overall reduction in body weight. There is still debate among researchers as to exactly how the drugs work, but a couple known factors are key: the medications reduce appetite and food cravings, and they delay the stomach from emptying so a person can feel full longer on a smaller amount of food.

The medications are effective for most people, but may be accompanied by side effects like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. For most people, these symptoms improve over time, but in some individuals they can be severe enough to cause them to stop taking the drugs. The majority of those who have stopped taking the medication have experienced weight gain.

The medications are available by prescription only, and may cost as much as $1,500 per month if not covered by a patient’s private insurance (Medicare does not yet cover them). Importantly, it is still unknown if there are any long-term risks associated with prolonged use of the drugs.

"If you are obese, with a body mass index greater than 27, or if you have weight-related medical problems, you may qualify for these medications," Dr. Shaker says. "Just remember, these medications are just one part of returning to a healthy weight, and you should speak with your physician to create a weight-loss program that works for you."