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Injectable GLP-1 medication can help manage type 2 diabetes and help people lose weight, in combination with diet and exercise. Several telemedicine companies offer GLP-1 medication to help support people’s health and may offer some drugs off-label for weight loss.

GLP-1 medication can help people with overweight or obesity who have at least one weight-related health condition manage their weight.

Some medications, such as Ozempic (semaglutide), only have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the management of type 2 diabetes. However, healthcare professionals may prescribe them off-label for weight loss.

Best for approved weight loss medications

Best for approved type 2 diabetes management medications

These medications mimic gut peptides, which help regulate blood sugar. Research from 2021 has found that, in conjunction with appropriate lifestyle habits, they can help people lose a significant amount of weight or maintain weight loss.

Incretin hormones cause the body to produce insulin when eating sugar, which is called the incretin effect. People with type 2 diabetes either have a decreased or absent incretin effect. GLP-1 medication can help manage blood sugar by encouraging insulin production.

One effect of GLP-1 medication is delayed gastric emptying, which can make people feel fuller for longer. This effect has led to companies creating GLP-1 medication specifically for weight management, including the FDA-approved drugs Wegovy and Zepbound.

What experts say about using GLP-1 medication for weight loss

“Only two anti-diabetic medications are FDA-approved for weight management in people who do not have diabetes: semaglutide (Wegovy) and liraglutide (Saxenda). Ozempic and Rybelsus are two other brands of semaglutide on the market that are approved by the FDA for glycemic control in diabetes but not for weight management.

Ozempic is only prescribed to type 2 diabetic patients for the sole purpose of glycemic control. Because of the increased risk of adverse reactions, it is not recommended for use in the absence of diabetes. This medication’s safety profile has not been studied in patients under the age of 18, pregnant and lactating people, or those with normal BMIs.”

Kimberly Langdon, MD

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At the time of publishing, the FDA has only approved three GLP-1 agonists for weight loss: Wegovy (semaglutide), Zepbound (tirzepatide), and Saxenda (liraglutide). These medications are only available to people with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or over with at least one weight-related health condition or people with a BMI of 30 or over.


Wegovy is available as a once-weekly injection in several doses, ranging from 0.25 to 2.4 milligrams (mg). The FDA approved this drug for use in weight management in June 2021.

Research from 2023 has found that people taking Wegovy lost more weight than those taking a placebo, with a mean difference in total weight loss of 12.6% after 68 weeks.


Zepbound received FDA approval for use in weight management in November 2023. This medication is available in doses of 2.5 to 15 mg in a once-weekly injection. Healthcare professionals will start people with the lowest possible dose and can increase it, if necessary, by 2.5 mg each time.

Research from 2023 shows that tirzepatide, the main ingredient in Zepbound, can reduce body weight, with higher doses being more effective. This medication appears to be more effective for weight loss than liraglutide, but more studies are necessary to see how it compares to semaglutide.


Saxenda received FDA approval for weight management in adults in 2014 and approval for use in children ages 12 years and over in 2021. People will inject Saxenda once daily, starting at 0.6 mg per dose. Healthcare professionals will increase the dose by 0.6 mg each week until people reach the full dose of 3 mg.

While Saxenda is effective for weight loss, people may notice slower or less obvious results. Research from 2023 found that people lost 8% of their body weight after 56 weeks, but this decreased to 6.1% after 160 weeks.

Two popular GLP-1 medications, Ozempic and Mounjaro (tirzepatide), only have FDA approval for the management of type 2 diabetes. However, some healthcare professionals may prescribe these off-label for weight loss.

Many healthcare professionals will require people to meet the same prescribing criteria as GLP-1 medications for weight loss.


Ozempic is available in doses of 2 mg to 8 mg in once-weekly injections. Research has found that Ozempic positively affects metabolic control and helps reduce cardiovascular risks in people with type 2 diabetes.

A 2-year study also found that semaglutide, Ozempic’s active ingredient, led to sustained weight loss compared to a placebo.


Mounjaro is available in 2.5 to 15 mg once-weekly injections. Its active ingredient is tirzepatide, a GIP receptor agonist that activates both the GLP-1 and GIP receptors to improve blood sugar regulation. This dual effect may make tirzepatide more effective than other injectable diabetes medications.

According to 2023 research, Mounjaro is very effective for weight loss, with people losing up to 15% of their body weight while taking this medication. However, people are more likely to experience gastrointestinal side effects with Mounjaro.

Here, we compare the most popular GLP-1 medications on price*, dose frequency, and FDA approval.

PriceDose frequencyFDA-approved use
Wegovy$1,300once-weeklyweight loss
Zepbound$1,000once-weeklyweight loss
Saxenda$7,800once-dailyweight loss
Ozempic$3,700once-weeklytype 2 diabetes
Mounjaro$1,000once-weeklytype 2 diabetes

*Note: All prices are current at the time of publishing, and come from Optum Perks, a free coupon search engine. The price for each medication is the lowest cost of a 28-day or monthly supply of the lowest possible dose from popular pharmacies.

Regulating blood sugar and helping with weight management are not the only benefits of GLP-1 medications. A 2020 review found that GLP-1 drugs may help reduce the risk of:

  • diabetic cardiomyopathy
  • myocardial infarction
  • stroke
  • high blood pressure
  • dyslipidemia

Some of the most common side effects of these medications are:

  • decreased appetite
  • indigestion
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

Possible serious risks and side effects include:

  • serious allergic reactions
  • low blood sugar
  • diabetic retinopathy complications
  • severe stomach, gallbladder, or kidney problems
  • inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis

Rodent studies have also shown that semaglutide, tirzepatide, and liraglutide can cause thyroid C-cell tumors. Health experts do not yet know whether these injectable diabetes drugs can cause tumors in humans, but it is important to understand the risk. All of these medications have FDA boxed warnings.

Manufacturers generally warn against using these drugs if a person has a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma, a type of thyroid cancer, or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), an endocrine system condition.

Learn more about the side effects of semaglutide (Ozempic).

Healthcare professionals only recommend injectable diabetes drugs for weight loss for people who either have obesity or overweight and another weight-related medical condition.

Weight-related medical conditions include:

Some doctors may prescribe injectable diabetes drugs for weight loss if a person has overweight or obesity and has indications of prediabetes.

Manufacturers did not design these drugs for people with moderate weight who want to lose additional weight. Despite their popularity on social media, these medications carry significant risks and can be harmful to those who do not need them.

What experts say about using Ozempic at a moderate weight

“Ozempic helps regulate blood glucose by stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin when blood glucose levels are elevated. This can cause severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) in people who do not have diabetes, necessitating immediate medical attention.

Other serious side effects include pancreatitis (pancreatic inflammation), the development of thyroid tumors, and gallbladder problems.”

Kimberly Langdon, MD

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Research from 2023 shows that semaglutide, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, and tirzepatide, such as Mounjaro and Zepbound, are more effective than liraglutide for weight loss.

Metformin is not a GLP-1 drug — it is in a class of medications called biguanides.

Healthcare professionals may prescribe metformin alongside GLP-1 medication.

Ozempic is a brand name for a type of GLP-1 drug called semaglutide. There are several other GLP-1 medications, and healthcare professionals will work closely with each person to determine which one best suits their needs.

The FDA has approved several GLP-1s for type 2 diabetes management and for weight loss. Healthcare professionals may prescribe type 2 diabetes medication for weight loss off-label if people meet certain criteria.

People will need to have obesity, or have overweight and at least one weight-related health condition to use GLP-1 medications. Some drugs, such as those containing semaglutide and tirzepatide, are more effective than others.