how to use Wegovy® for Weight Loss

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is the brand name for a medicine called semaglutide. It is approved for use in the NHS alongside diet and physical activity to manage excess weight and obesity in some people.

Wegovy comes as a pre-filled injector pen. You can use it to inject yourself weekly, under the skin in the upper arms, stomach, thighs or buttocks. Wegovy is one of two weight loss injections available on the NHS, the other being Saxenda (liraglutide).

It is only available through specialist weight management clinics. Your GP can refer you to a clinic if Wegovy could be suitable for you.

How does it work?

Wegovy acts on areas of the brain which are involved in regulating your appetite. It increases feelings of fullness, reduces feelings of hunger and reduces the preference for high-fat foods.

It also reduces blood sugar by promoting the release of insulin when blood sugar levels are high. Another name for semaglutide is Ozempic, which is used to treat type 2 diabetes because it can reduce blood sugar.

Can I get treated with Wegovy on the NHS?

You can be treated with Wegovy in a specialist weight management service if you have:

You may also be prescribed Wegovy if you have a BMI of 30 to 34.9 and have been referred to a specialist weight management clinic.

If you’re from an Asian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Black African or African-Caribbean background you may qualify for Wegovy with a lower BMI.

How effective is it?

One of the studies of Wegovy, funded by the drug’s makers Novo Nordisk, looked at whether adults with obesity can achieve weight loss with one-weekly semaglutide. The study showed that when Wegovy was used for 15 months with lifestyle support from a professional to follow a calorie-reduced diet and to get more active, people lost on average 15% of their body weight.

This compares to people in the study who had the same lifestyle support but dummy (placebo) injections, who only lost 2.4% of their body weight on average. The study also found that taking the drug can lead to a smaller waistline and lower blood pressure.

There is also evidence to suggest that Wegovy may decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Researchers are now studying this to find out more.

Do I still need to diet and exercise?

Yes, it’s important to also make changes to your diet to reduce the amount of calories you are eating and to take part in regular exercise. This will help you to get the most out of taking this medication and to help you to avoid gaining weight when you stop taking this medicine. Your specialist clinic should be able to support you with this. 

Are there any side effects or long-term risks?

As with all drugs, Wegovy can cause side effects. The most common are feeling or being sick, or diarrhoea. Rarer, but more serious, problems include gall bladder disease, inflammation of the pancreas and kidney issues.

Treatment with Wegovy is limited to two years and its long-term risks are still being studied. 


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