Ozempic vs. Other Weight Loss Medications

With obesity rates rising, more people are turning to medications for weight management. Ozempic (semaglutide) is a relatively new glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that acts as an appetite suppressant. But how does it stack up against other prescription weight loss drugs?

Overview of Ozempic

Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable prescription medication originally approved to improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. It mimics the hormone GLP-1 which helps regulate appetite and food intake.

Mechanism of Action

By activating GLP-1 receptors, Ozempic:

  • Increases feelings of fullness and satiety
  • Delays gastric emptying to curb appetite
  • Boosts insulin release in a glucose-dependent manner
  • Decreases glucagon secretion

Together, these effects facilitate weight loss.

Efficacy for Weight Loss

In clinical trials, Ozempic helped overweight or obese adults lose an average of 12-15% of their body weight over 68 weeks. Greater dosages and longer treatment duration increased weight loss.

Compare to Phentermine

Phentermine is an appetite suppressant and sympathomimetic amine approved for short-term obesity treatment.

Mechanism of Action

It stimulates the release of norepinephrine and dopamine to curb hunger signals. It does not affect nutrient absorption.

Efficacy and Safety

In clinical trials, phentermine helped adults lose 5-10% of body weight over 12-24 weeks. However, it has a high potential for abuse and cardiovascular side effects like increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Key Differences

Ozempic induces more gradual but sustained weight loss through different mechanisms. It targets nutrient absorption and satiety hormones unlike phentermine’s neurological effects. Ozempic has demonstrated safer long-term efficacy.

Compare to Orlistat

Orlistat decreases fat absorption in the GI tract to promote weight loss.

Mechanism of Action

It inhibits pancreatic lipase, an enzyme needed to break down and absorb dietary fat and triglycerides. Undigested fat is eliminated in stool.

Efficacy and Safety

In trials, orlistat helped adults lose 2.5-5.8% of body weight over 6-12 months. Gastrointestinal side effects like oily stools, gas, and abdominal pain are common. Unlike Ozempic, it does not act centrally to curb appetite.

Key Differences

While orlistat modestly enhances weight loss through fat malabsorption, Ozempic reduces appetite which may better support long-term compliance and eating habit changes.

Compare to Contrave

Contrave combines two medications – bupropion and naltrexone – to reduce appetite and increase satiety.

Mechanism of Action

Bupropion activates POMC neurons to decrease hunger signals. Naltrexone blocks opioid receptor activity involved in food cravings.

Efficacy and Safety

In a 1-year study, Contrave helped obese individuals lose 5-10% of baseline weight compared to placebo. Side effects may include nausea, headache, and constipation.

Key Differences

Contrave and Ozempic both target appetite suppression but through different mechanisms. Ozempic is associated with more significant weight reduction.

Compare to Saxenda

Saxenda is a higher dose GLP-1 receptor agonist formulation of liraglutide.

Mechanism of Action

Like Ozempic, Saxenda mimics GLP-1 hormone activity to control appetite and food intake. The two share similar mechanisms.

Efficacy and Safety

In trials, Saxenda helped obese patients lose 5-10% of body weight over 12-56 weeks of treatment. Gastrointestinal side effects are common but typically mild.

Key Differences

As GLP-1 agonists, Saxenda is most comparable to Ozempic. However, Ozempic has demonstrated slightly greater weight loss at higher doses with a longer half-life and weekly dosing schedule.


While other weight loss medications have distinct mechanisms of action, Ozempic’s ability to induce sustained reductions in appetite and body weight gives it certain advantages. Head-to-head clinical trials comparing Ozempic to other obesity drugs would better clarify its efficacy and safety for long-term weight management.

Combination therapy may also be beneficial. However, changes in nutrition and lifestyle remain critical for lasting success. Patients should consult their doctor to determine the most appropriate medication regimen based on their needs and profile.

About the Author

Nicole Carter is a dedicated and passionate nutritionist, committed to helping individuals achieve their health and wellness goals through the power of proper nutrition. With a Bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science and years of practical experience.

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