Can You Stop Taking Anti-Obesity Drugs?

There has been an ongoing debate about whether people taking anti-obesity drugs can stop taking them after their desired effect is achieved, and what happens if they do.

In her recent article, Axios writer Tina Reed discusses an emerging debate around a class of anti-obesity drugs known as GLP-1 agonists, particularly whether patients should expect to take them indefinitely. These drugs, initially used for treating Type 2 diabetes, have gained approval for weight loss. The debate centers on whether treating obesity as a chronic disease means patients should remain on these drugs long-term or if they can eventually stop.

The tension arises from insurers’ concerns about the costly implications of prolonged drug use and clinicians’ uncertainties about whether patients should commit to a lifetime of treatments. Some argue that, like other chronic diseases, it makes sense for patients to stay on the drugs continuously. Others suggest that more data is needed to understand how these drugs affect the brain, proposing the possibility of using them as a bridge to less intense therapies and lifestyle changes.

Studies indicate that many patients stop taking these drugs within a year due to challenging side effects and coverage limits. Some experts suggest the need for clinical studies to explore options like lower doses, switching to less expensive medications, or intermittent drug use to maintain weight loss.

Insurers’ reluctance to cover these drugs for obesity adds to the complexity of the issue. While weaning may be plausible for some patients, there isn’t enough clinical data yet to support taking all patients off the drugs. Regardless of the stance, there is agreement on the importance of strong patient support services to enhance the success of these drugs.

What happens when you stop taking Ozempic?

An uncredited but medically reviewed article on provides information on the potential consequences of stopping the use of Ozempic, an injection used for type 2 diabetes and weight loss. Apparently, if patients discontinue Ozempic, they may experience weight regain within a few months to a year, an increase in blood sugar levels, and potential loss of positive heart health benefits.

The mechanisms of Ozempic involve controlling blood sugar levels, insulin secretion, and digestion, contributing to weight loss by reducing appetite and slowing gastric emptying. Upon stopping Ozempic, these mechanisms cease, leading to an increase in appetite, weight regain, and potential worsening of type 2 diabetes and heart health.

The article discusses a study on the effects of stopping semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, which showed that individuals who received semaglutide regained some weight after discontinuation, but still had an overall weight loss compared to a placebo group. Additionally, improvements in heart health observed during treatment were reversed after stopping.

Reasons for discontinuing Ozempic include common side effects like nausea, vomiting, and stomach issues. Ways to prevent weight gain after stopping Ozempic include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, consulting with a healthcare professional, prioritizing sleep, meeting with a dietitian, and staying hydrated.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The big question about obesity drugs: Can people ever stop taking them?,”, 11/27/2023
Source: “What happens when you stop taking Ozempic?,”, 9/18/2023
Image by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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