Navigating health trends: Ozempic

By now, you may have come across news and discussions surrounding Ozempic, a medication originally designed to enhance glycemic control in those with type 2 diabetes. However, there is growing interest in its off-label potential for weight loss.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a once-weekly self-administered injection treatment, also known by its generic name, semaglutide.

“Technically speaking, Ozempic is only for people with type 2 diabetes. So, prescribing Ozempic for someone without diabetes would be considered off-label,” says Esmond Wong, the clinical pharmacist for Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network.

It’s important to note that Ozempic and semaglutide only help with weight loss if you are taking it. Studies have found that people will slowly regain their weight if they come off these medications.” - Esmond Wong, Clinical Pharmacist, Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network.

Consult your doctor and Primary Care Network

If considering Ozempic for weight loss, individuals should discuss the potential risks, side effects and benefits with their family doctor.

If your doctor is connected to a Primary Care Network (PCN), you also have free access to informed experts, such as dietitians, pharmacists and physicians who can provide personalized guidance to meet your goals. Find your local PCN.

“There is often a myth that only exercise and nutrition impact weight when there are many factors such as stress, sleep, mobility, medications, genetics, income, medical history etc., that can influence our weight and health,” says Elisa D’Andrea, dietitian and health team lead at Calgary Foothills PCN. “Some of these factors are within our control and some are not.

For those seeking support for safe and long-term weight and lifestyle management, or effective diabetes management, PCN group workshops offer valuable resources and insights.

Understanding Ozempic: side effects and risks

Like any medication, Ozempic comes with potential side effects and risks.

Side effects

  • The most common side effects are gastrointestinal, including nausea and diarrhea.
  • Less common side effects include pancreatitis and increased heart rate.
  • Malnutrition is rare but possible due to lack of proper nutrients. Some signs and symptoms of malnutrition may include loss of muscle mass, lack of energy, difficulty recovering from illness or injury or poor quality of life.

If you are taking Ozempic and have experienced any of the above symptoms or are concerned about your eating habits, please talk to your doctor.


  • Individuals with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer are not suitable candidates for Ozempic.
  • Individuals with a history of pancreatitis are not suitable candidates for Ozempic.

Making informed choices for better health

The most suitable candidates for Ozempic are those who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and require better glycemic control.

Insurance plans typically do not cover Ozempic for weight loss in individuals without diabetes due to the off-label use.

Another medication called Wegovy — yet to be made available in Canada — contains a higher dose of semaglutide and is indicated for weight loss in both individuals with and without diabetes.

While this medication may be beneficial for managing weight loss, individuals should be reminded that medication alone is not a substitute for adopting a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet and regular physical activity.


The PCN offers free online and in-person classes on health and nutrition related topics like healthy weight, exercise, diabetes, and mental health. Explore the classes and sign up here.

Having a PCN as your health base will connect you to basic healthcare, support and education when you need it. Access your PCN health team.


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