Be extremely careful while using diabetes medications to lose weight: Docs

New Delhi: With celebrities like Tesla CEO Elon Musk promoting the use of a diabetes drug to shed a few extra pounds around the waist along with fasting, health experts on Sunday urged Indians to be extremely careful while using such weight loss drugs as with the trend already catching up quickly in the country.

There are several anti-diabetic medications that can cause weight loss.

According to Dr. Ritesh Gupta, director of the Fortis CDOC Diabetes and Endocrinology Hospital, metformin is one of the oldest anti-diabetic drugs and causes little weight loss.

“There are newer drugs like SGLT2 inhibitors and AGLP1 agonists that cause good weight loss. Some of these drugs are approved for weight loss in the US. However, none of these drugs are approved for weight loss in India, although they are available for the treatment of diabetes,” Gupta said.

Some of these drugs can be used for weight loss in people who are obese and do not have diabetes, “but this should only be done after proper research and under strict medical supervision,” he warned.

In the US, Ozempic, a prescription drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, has attracted a lot of attention because of one of its side effects, which is weight loss.

It became a social media sensation, with the “Ozempic” theme garnering over 300 million views on TikTok, according to media reports.

Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic, says increased demand for the drug and supply chain issues have affected supplies.

There are now drugs for sugar control that also lead to weight loss, and this may seem lucrative for patients.

“But every drug has its indications and its share of side effects. Hence, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before undertaking such treatment,” said Dr Dheeraj Kapoor, Head of Endocrinology at Artemis Hospitals.

“Weight loss with some anti-diabetic drugs in no way eliminates the need for lifestyle changes (dietary control and exercise) for the same,” added Dr Atul Luthra, Head, Diabetes and Endocrinology, Research Institute Fortis Memorial, Gurugram.

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