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While drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy can help people lose weight, they can also alter the way food tastes and may even impact your ability to derive pleasure from activities you enjoy. Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images
  • The potential to make life boring and miserable may be an unwelcome side effect of drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy.
  • The medication could alter the way food tastes and may even impact your ability to derive pleasure from activities you enjoy.
  • This side effect has the potential to damage your relationship with food in the long term.
  • Experts say you should consider the long-term impact before choosing any medication as a weight loss tool.

Semaglutide, a type 2 diabetes treatment sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, has been making headlines recently due to its popularity as a weight loss treatment.

While celebrities and many people online claim the drug has helped them quickly shed pounds, the medication has been criticized for its many side effects.

The latest side effect to gain traction is the claim that taking Ozempic or Wegovy could end up making your life incredibly boring by changing your relationship with food.

That’s according to Professor Jens Juul Holst, a scientist who helped pioneer drugs like Ozempic, who said in an interview with Wired, “Once you’ve been on this for a year or two, life is so miserably boring that you can’t stand it any longer and you have to go back to your old life.”

His comments add to reports shared online by Ozempic users that the drug alters the way food tastes and can strip people of their desire to eat.

If you’re someone who normally derives a lot of pleasure from food and who enjoys eating out with friends, this potential side effect could prove problematic.

Dr. Daniel Maselli, obesity medicine specialist and gastroenterologist at True You Weight Loss, says Semaglutide has proven to be a very effective and safe medication for weight loss, and has been a welcomed therapy by many patients affected by obesity who are frustrated by the lack of sustained effectiveness of diet and exercise.

However, he adds that all medications affect people differently and that therapeutic effects occur along a spectrum.

“Semaglutide is no exception to this. At one extreme, we have very minimal effect on appetite at all, and on the other extreme, we have patients who have such an over-regulated appetite that they can lose both drive to eat and pleasure from eating significantly,” he explains.

Fortunately, Maselli says most patients will find themselves in the middle of that spectrum, but he agrees, that for the patients with an over-regulated appetite, life can understandably become miserable, given the role food and mealtime plays in our social fabric.

“The risks of Semaglutide in the published literature have largely focused on medical outcomes — for instance, gastrointestinal symptoms, headache, fatigue, injection site reactions, and pancreatitis. There has been less focus on psychosocial outcomes,” he surmises.

“However, it is reasonable to assume that, for the subset of patients who experience overregulation of appetite, a loss of enjoyment around food could be depressing, isolating, and counter-productive to the health-conscious mindset that motivated them to seek Semaglutide in the first place.”

What’s more, it may be highly palatable foods (i.e. the ones we tend to enjoy most) that we especially lose our appetite for. Maselli says these medications don’t just have a “dampening effect on hunger itself,” but “a more nuanced modification in alerting food preferences.”

“Studies have shown that Semaglutide decreases preference for high-fat and non-sweet foods and reduces cravings for savory foods,” he explains.

While it’s best to enjoy these kinds of food in moderation, both for weight management and overall health, a life completely devoid of them may not only make you miserable but damage your relationship with food in the long term.

It’s clear that Ozempic plays a role in curbing appetite and contributes to feelings of fullness.

However, other reports suggest that Ozempic may not only remove the pleasure you derive from food but from other activities as well. Notably, drinking alcohol, smoking, online shopping, and nail-biting.

“Due to the impact of these medications on the brain’s reward centers, their effects are not limited to food alone,” says Florida physician nutrition specialist and co-founder of Prime Institute Dr. Michelle Pearlman.

“These medications target the central nervous system and can assist in improving impulse control,” she explains.

“They may also influence cravings and desires associated with other addictions, including those related to alcohol, drugs, and certain activities that offer comfort and pleasure to some individuals.”

If you find activities like online shopping and drinking alcohol addictive in nature, then curbing those impulses may be a welcome side effect of Ozempic. However, if they are simply activities you enjoy occasionally, you could find life without them feels a lot less pleasurable.

The long-term effects of using Ozempic as a weight loss aid need to be considered as well.

There are concerns that once you stop taking Ozempic you may regain all of the weight you’ve lost, particularly if you haven’t created a sustainable food and exercise plan that supports your weight management endeavors.

No matter how you choose to lose weight, Pearlman points out that making a lifestyle change is essential. “Medication alone will not solve all the challenges [associated with obesity and weight gain],” she notes. “While the medication may make it somewhat easier to eat less, you still need to put in the effort to establish a strong foundation for long-term optimal results.”

Losing weight and keeping it off in the long term is a little more complex than simply taking a drug that works at a physical level. It involves adopting a healthier lifestyle, focusing on long-term behavioral change, and shifting your mindset around food.

So, if you are on a weight loss journey, how can you promote weight loss without medications like Ozempic?

“Take the initiative to educate yourself about nutrition and explore the benefits of incorporating whole food, plant-based options into your diet,” Pearlman advises.

“Eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re satisfied, paying attention to the act of eating itself and savoring the flavors while minimizing distractions. By doing so, you can prevent overeating and mindless snacking, which can lead to weight gain and unwanted effects such as bloating and gas,” she explains.

While Maselli is keen to point out the benefits of drugs like Ozempic, particularly for people living with obesity, and believes them to be both very effective and generally safe, it’s clear that these medications won’t be right for everybody.

There’s more to food than weight management. People not only eat for survival and overall health but for pleasure as well.

For many, sharing food while socializing is one of life’s simple pleasures, and savoring an occasional indulgence can put a spring in their step.

If you want to lose weight while still deriving pleasure from food and other activities, medications like Ozempic and Wegovy may not be the best choice for you.