Ask an Expert: How is obesity managed with medications like Ozempic?

BU Experts
4 min readMar 27, 2024


A Boston University weight management expert discusses the medical management of obesity, weight loss medications and their side effects, and the complexity of obesity as a disease.

By Joela Goga

In 2024, Ozempic, a medication originally approved for treating adults with type 2 diabetes, has become a household name. Over the past several years, the drug has been increasingly utilized — and in some cases, misused — by individuals seeking weight loss benefits. This trend has propelled Ozempic to fame, making it the subject of intense online discussion and curiosity. Searches for “Ozempic before and after” and specific celebrities associated with using the medication have surged, highlighting its rising popularity as a weight loss solution. By the end of 2022, over nine million prescriptions for Ozempic and similar drugs were written, with data indicating that many U.S. healthcare providers prescribed these drugs as “off-label,” which refers to using a medication for a purpose it is not approved for (such as weight loss). In a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA), Dr. Samar Hafida, an Assistant Professor at Boston University’s Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, and an expert in weight management addressed these concerns, as well as related topics regarding metabolic disorders like diabetes, and nutrition.

Dr. Hafida’s research specialties include endocrinology, diabetes, nutrition, and weight management, and she is passionate about helping to care for adolescents dealing with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Through her work, she aims to leverage diabetes technology in order to support patients with obesity and complex metabolic disorders. Dr. Hafida is an advocate for eliminating obesity-related stigma, and strongly believes in providing quality and equitable care for all, regardless of identity. The takeaways from her Reddit AMA are valuable for debunking false claims regarding anti-obesity medications, understanding how weight loss is targeted from a medical perspective, and the complexities of obesity as a disease, especially when coupled with diabetes.

Photo by Julia Zyablova on Unsplash

1) So what’s going on with this shortage of Ozempic?

Dr. Hafida discusses her approach to patient weight loss, and highlights the supply chain issues with medications like Ozempic.

2) What are the side effects of Ozempic?

Potential side effects differ, and users with diabetes may need to change their insulin dosage.

3) What impact can a keto diet have on diabetes?

Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet can lead to weight loss and lower blood sugar. Dr. Hafida weighs in on other, long-term effects.

4) Is Ozempic really a “magic” fix?

Contrary to popular belief, there’s more information one needs to know before starting a medication like Ozempic — and it isn’t for everyone.

5) Do you gain the weight back after you stop taking an anti-obesity medication, like Wegovy?

While some semaglutide injection treatments are still undergoing clinical trials, Dr. Hafida is hopeful about their positive outcomes.

6) How do medications like Ozempic affect the brain?

Dr. Hafida explains how medications in the GLP-1RA class impact the brain.

7) What lifestyle changes can physicians suggest to their patients who are taking anti-obesity medications?

Dr. Hafida shares five basic principles of lifestyle modification.

8) As a disease, how is obesity described?

Obesity is a complex condition, with Dr. Hafida describing it as a disease characterized by “excess energy storage.”

9) How does maternal and/or paternal health impact obesity in adolescents?

With a complex disease like obesity, it’s not as simple as attributing it to one single factor.

For additional commentary by Boston University experts, follow us on X at @BUexperts. Follow Dr. Samar Hafida on X at @Samarhafida. For research, thought leadership, and information from Boston University’s Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, follow @BUMedicine.



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