Diabetes medication becomes weight loss option for people struggling with obesity

The drug helps diabetics lower blood sugar, but it also decreases a person's appetite and makes them feel full longer.

Amanda Aguilar Image
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Diabetes medication becomes weight loss option for people struggling with obesity
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Social media is buzzing with its latest weight loss trend. People are turning to diabetes medication to shed pounds, which is causing a shortage.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Social media is buzzing with its latest weight loss trend. People are turning to diabetes medication to shed pounds, which is causing a shortage.

"I was working out, I was walking, and it was just very frustrating that everything I did, nothing worked," Raquel Hotz recalled.

Hotz is 55 years old. She said she's struggled with her weight all her life.

In 2008, she had a gastric bypass. Hotz dropped several pounds, and kept it off by exercising and eating healthy.

Nine years later, the weight wasn't staying off. Her gastroenterologist put her on a weight loss pill to suppress her appetite.

It helped, but then her primary care doctor suggested another option -- a diabetes medication.

"That's when she brought up Trulicity, went over it and said it was this new drug that came out," said Hotz. "It was for diabetes. However, there was a side effect that you would lose weight."

"Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, Trulicity -- they're all a medication called Semaglutide," explained Dr. Uma Rao. "The people who want to lose weight -- just because they're not able to through diet, exercise, genetics -- saw an opportunity to have something else besides controlled substances."

Dr. Rao, who practices in northeast Fresno, said the drug helps diabetics lower blood sugar but it also decreases a person's appetite and makes them feel full longer.

"Within three weeks, I was just blown away that I looked in the mirror, and I was like 'Wow!' A lot of my belly fat, which is where I was storing everything in the center, was gone," Hotz said.

The two say they wouldn't call it a "miracle pill," because you still have to live a healthy lifestyle. It just jumpstarts the weight loss journey.

"When I started it, I was 205 pounds," said Hotz. "Right now? I weighed myself and I'm 170."

According to Dr. Rao, the drug isn't for people at a normal body mass index (BMI) and want a shortcut to dropping pounds.

"People who are about normal body weight, 25 BMI, but they just want to look skinny - no, they are not candidates," she said.

According to Dr. Rao, unqualified candidates are somehow getting their hands on the drug, specifically Ozempic and Wegovy, which has caused her own diabetic patients to wait for their prescription since they're backordered.

Experts want to stress you should never take prescription medication that's not recommended by your physician.