Wegovy: What you can expect from the ‘new’ weight loss drug

If you were paying attention to the news this summer, you probably heard about Wegovy (semaglutide) — a “new” drug just approved for weight loss.

It’s an injection that you self-administer once a week under the skin. And it works! 

People using Wegovy experience an average 12.4 percent reduction in weight over the course of 68 weeks compared to those using placebo. As the first weight loss drug that the FDA has approved in the last 8 years, not surprisingly Wegovy grabbed multiple headlines.

All sounds great — until you consider the details…

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Why Wegovy?

Wegovy is simply a higher dose of Ozempic, a drug used to control blood sugar in diabetics. 

Ozempic hit the market in 2018 and has already achieved blockbuster status in terms of sales. Both Wegovy and Ozempic are synthetic versions of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), a hormone made in the gut that controls blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as influencing hunger and satiety centers in the brain.

If GLP-1 sounds familiar to you, it’s because I’ve previously discussed this hormone in the context of diet soda.

GLP-1 acts to limit the rise of blood sugar levels after meals. Artificial sweeteners attenuate GLP-1 levels significantly, leading to dramatic increases in circulating blood sugar levels after meals. Makes sense that injecting synthetic GLP-1 could help improve blood sugar control — which is why Ozempic is approved for diabetes management. 

As an aside, doesn’t the whole GLP-1 thing make it obvious that diabetics should avoid artificial sweeteners? Even though the vast majority of food products aimed at diabetics contain them? But I digress.

And now for the details…

Weight loss with Wegovy side effects

The side effects of Wegovy include:

  • an increased risk of thyroid cancer
  • pancreatitis
  • gall stones
  • kidney disease
  • suicidal ideation
  • and, predictably, low blood sugar 

Oh — and the drug is expected to cost around $1300 per month. Plus, once individuals stop using Wegovy, the weight can go back up.

$1300 buys a lot of fabulous, healthy food. Or a year’s worth of Step One! Meanwhile, side effects of Step One and other fabulous healthy foods include better digestion, higher satiety, improved sense of wellbeing, lower blood pressure, better blood sugar control, lower cholesterol and… wait for it… weight loss. Not to mention helping normalize the gut microbiome so it can encourage healthy GLP-1 levels.

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Just like high cholesterol is not caused by a deficiency of Lipitor, obesity is not caused by a deficiency of GLP-1. Obesity is caused by multiple factors — especially diet — that lead to low GLP-1 levels (as well as high cholesterol).

So instead of bombarding your body with synthetic hormones (and exposing it to the risk of various unintended consequences), why not simply address the underlying cause of the health condition by improving diet and thus supporting your body’s natural abilities to heal itself?

Addressing the root cause of health issues instead of just reflexively throwing drugs at the problem is the philosophy behind Step One Foods. Because that’s the true road to true health.

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Dr. Elizabeth Klodas MD, FACC

By Dr. Elizabeth Klodas MD, FACC

"Diet is a major driver of high cholesterol, but instead of changing the food, we prescribe medications. This never seemed logical to me.” Dr. Klodas has dedicated her career to preventive cardiology. Trained at Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins, she is the founder and Chief Medical Officer for Step One Foods. Dr. Klodas is a nationally sought out speaker and has an active role at the American College of Cardiology. Her clinical interests include prevention of heart disease and non-invasive cardiac imaging and she has published dozens of scientific articles throughout her career. Dr. Klodas has been featured on CNN Health for her mission to change how heart disease is treated. An independent study performed at leading medical institutions affirmed the ability of Step One Foods to deliver measurable and meaningful cholesterol-reduction benefits in the real world. The results of the trial were presented at the 2018 American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. Dr. Klodas has also authored a book for patients, "Slay the Giant: The Power of Prevention in Defeating Heart Disease," and served as founding Editor-in-Chief of the patient education effort of the American College of Cardiology. In addition to her practice and her duties at Step One Foods, she also serves as medical editor for webMD.