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Everything you need to know about weight loss jab WeGovy

Everything you need to know about ‘game-changing’ weight loss jab WeGovy – from how it’s different to Ozempic to who can get it and how it works

  • Semaglutide is branded as two separate drugs – Ozempic and Wegovy
  • READ MORE: Experts warn that NHS’s new weight loss drug isn’t a miracle fix 

A weight-loss jab beloved by Hollywood A-listers has been given the green light to be offered on the NHS to Brits struggling to slim down.

But is semaglutide, sold under the brand name Wegovy, the miracle drug it’s been cracked up to be?

Who will be eligible to take it? And what are the potential side effects?

Here, MailOnline explains everything you need to know WeGovy and its cousin Ozempic.

Semaglutide, marketed as Wegovy to those who are overweight or obese has been approved for use in the NHS 

Wegovy and Ozempic work by triggering the body to produce a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 that is released naturally from the intestines after meals

What is semaglutide and how does it work?

Semaglutide is one of a group of drugs known as GLP-1s. 

They are a synthetic form of a hormone naturally released by the body when you eat that stimulates the release of insulin, a chemical which helps to control blood sugar levels. 

It also slows the speed at which the stomach empties, and tells the brain to increase the sense of how full you feel and reduce your appetite.

What is the difference between Ozempic and Wegovy? 

Read more: From hollow-face to nausea and diarrhoea: Experts warn weight loss drug semaglutide isn’t a miracle fix and users can quickly pile pounds on after stopping weekly jabs – as NHS approves Hollywood’s favourite slimming potion 

Elon Musk (left) credits his spectacular weight loss in 2020 to Wegovy. The tech tycoon looked noticeably slim when he first arrived in Twitter HQ after purchasing the company in October (right)

Confusingly, semaglutide is branded as two separate drugs, both of which are made by Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk.

Ozempic is targeted at patients with type 2 diabetes. 

It lowers their blood sugar and reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes among those who also have heart disease.

Sister drug Wegovy is packed with a more potent dose of semaglutide and is instead targeted at people who weigh too much.

Will I be able to get Wegovy?

Wegovy will be available for people who have a BMI of 35 or more — a classification which means they are morbidly obese.

Patients must also have at least one weight-related comorbidity, such as type 2 diabetes, to be eligible.

Adults with a BMI between 30 and 35 could also be recommended the drug if they have been referred for specialist help, according to guidance from NHS watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Could I get it privately then?

Private clinics in the UK can give clients Ozempic off-label for just under £200 per month.

However, doctors have said off-label prescribing is ‘very dodgy ground’ as medics are not allowed to promote drugs for a treatment outside the product licence. 

Novo Nordisk has warned it does not support off-label prescribing, which can limit supply for type 2 diabetes patients who have been prescribed the medication.

Are there side effects?

As will all medications, semaglutide is not entirely risk-free.

Users commonly complain of nausea, constipation and diarrhoea, while some also suffer from acid reflux, fatigue and complain that food tastes different after taking the drug.

It is this side effect that some people credit for further assisting their weight loss — by making their favourite junk food taste bad.

Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson (left) revealed he was taking Ozempic in a bid to lose weight. When asked in October whether following a healthier diet or hitting the gym was behind his 30lb (13.6kg) weight loss, Elon Musk (right) credited ‘fasting’ and ‘Wegovy’

Kim Kardashian is rumoured to have used Wegovy to rapidly lose weight in order to fit in Marilyn Monroe’s famous ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ dress at the 2022 Met Gala (pictured) 

Thyroid cancer, pancreatitis — when the organ becomes inflamed — and kidney failure are rare but serious side effects.

Patients have also warned of their face appearing gaunt, exhausted and old — a side effect that has been labelled ‘Ozempic face’.

But Avideh Nazeri, medical director for Novo Nordisk UK, says they can be limited by only gradually increasing the dose a patient takes.

Will I pile weight back on if I stop taking it?


Will YOU be eligible for the once-a-week jab? 


Wegovy will be available for people who have a BMI of 35 — making them morbidly obese.

Patients must also have at least one weight-related comorbidity, such as type 2 diabetes, to be eligible.

Adults with a BMI between 30 and 35 could also be recommended the drug if they have been referred for specialist help. 


Metric Formula:

BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))


Under 18.5: Underweight

18.5 – 24.9: Healthy

25 – 29.9: Overweight

30 – 34.9: Obese

35 or greater: Morbidly obese 

Research suggests that when people come off the drug, they do regain weight as their appetite returns, so you may have to keep taking this drug for the rest of your life.

This is because the drug works by signalling satiety to the brain and suppressing appetite, so once a person stops taking the drug, their prior eating habits could return.

However, if people were to make significant lifestyle changes while on the drug to combat weight gain, they could maintain a healthier weight. 

Can I take a pill instead? 

Although a pill form of semaglutide was launched in the UK last year, this is a formulation to treat diabetes.

So far no studies on its use as a weight loss aid are underway — basically, don’t hold your breath.

Is it groundbreaking?

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said semaglutide was ‘the weight-loss drug that we’ve been waiting for’ and urged health leaders to ration supplies to those in greatest need.

He said: ‘It’s a gamechanger and so successful that Hollywood A-listers are now using it to slim and show off their figures.

‘The real danger is that there may not be enough to go round in the short-term.

‘You should not be using it just to lose a few pounds because that might will jeopardise the health of those who really need it, those who have diabetes Type 2 and morbid obesity.’

But dietitian Dr Duane Mellor, of Aston Medical School, Aston University, urged caution, saying the drug was not a ‘miracle cure’ for obesity. He said: ‘It is important to remember that semaglutide works alongside and supports healthy lifestyle changes and when people are being offered semaglutide that they are also given ongoing support to make changes and maintain these changes with respect to diet and lifestyle.

A UK study found that people who used Wegovy experienced rapid weight loss, dropping 18% of their weight over 68 weeks. They regained two-thirds of that weight, or 12% of their original body weight in the year after dropping the weekly injections. Experts says the drug needs to be used over a lifetime to keep off the pounds

‘As all individuals initially being offered semaglutide via the NHS will be supported by specialist weight management services this should including support from a specialist dietitian.’

What other weight loss drugs are available on the NHS?

Two other weight loss drugs are available on the NHS — orlistat and liraglutide.

Orlistat is a pill taken up to three times a day that prevents fat being absorbed by the digestive system.

The undigested fat is instead passed out of the body as faeces.

While this stops people gaining more weight, it doesn’t help them lose it by itself.

Side effects include fatty or oily poo, oily discharge from the rectum, and high levels of flatulence. 

Liraglutide is an injectable drug administered daily, that works in a similar way to semaglutide by altering the body’s metabolism, making the person feel fuller and less hungry. 

This leads them to eat less and, in theory, lose weight.

Liraglutide is generally only prescribed after a GP refers you to a specialist weight loss management service and when orlistat hasn’t worked.

Side effects include aches and pains, diarrhoea, fever, frequent urination, and trouble sleeping.


Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide 

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