Aussie mother's Ozempic nightmare during weight loss ordeal: 'I was so scared'

Manufactured to treat diabetes, semaglutide — sold under the brand name Ozempic — can also be prescribed for obesity, but not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

You might not have tried it but almost everyone would've heard by now of the wonder "weight-loss drug" Ozempic, that's skyrocketing in popularity across the world and in particular among Hollywood's elite.

Manufactured to treat type 2 diabetes, semaglutide — which is sold under the brand names Ozempic and Rybelsus — can also be prescribed to combat obesity and in fact, it's in such demand right now there's a major shortage all over the country due to an "unexpected increase in consumer demand."

While some swear by it and claim to have dropped some serious kilos since taking Ozempic, which is administered via a weekly injection, many have shared their unexpected horror stories since starting on the drug. One Aussie mother, based in Perth, told Yahoo News Australia how she suffered from such a severe loss of appetite she was "unable to eat for days", leaving her "very scared" and "sick at the sight of food."

Rashmi Watel is pictured left. And right is the drug Ozempic she says she will never use again.
Perth mum Rashmi Watel has revealed why she'll never use weight loss drugs like Ozempic again. Source: Supplied/ Getty

Aussie mum's 'terrible' symptoms after taking Ozempic for just weeks

Rashmi Watel, 43, said she'd battled with yo-yo dieting for much of her adult life and was never properly able to get on top of her weight, despite exploring numerous avenues in a bid to slim down.

In a last-ditch effort, Watel said she decided to try Ozempic, which was put forward as a potential solution to her weight woes by her doctor. The side effects of the drug however took "several months to get over". "I was really struggling with the weight loss at the time," Watel told Yahoo. "I have gained and I have lost weight so many times ever since I was in my 20s.

"Then, based on my gynaecologist's recommendation, she gave me the script and I started Ozempic. Initially when I tried it, there were no side effects, I didn't really experience anything. "

But gradually after "a few weeks" on the drug, Watel explained, she started to notice she was experiencing severe mood swings. "I was getting upset for no reason," she said. Then, the mother recalled, things took another turn.

Highlighting one incident that she'll "never forget", Watel described feeling so turned off food she was unable to eat for days on end, and at one point last year, during her daughters' school performance, she was barely able to remain present through "all the sweating".

'Awful' side effects left mum 'scared, in pain'

She said the family had dinner plans which they were forced to cancel as her condition deteriorated and in the days that followed, she barely ate.

"I could not even look at food — I just felt really full," Watel said. "There was so much sweating and pain in my stomach and just this terrible feeling inside me. I don't know how I sat through their performance.

"I was scared, really scared. I didn't know what was happening."

To her relief, the symptoms eventually faded and Watel said that, despite her fears, she did notice she was losing weight and was therefore reluctant to stop taking the medication. That was until she found out there was a shortage and was forced to stop, which she said ended up being a blessing in disguise.

An Ozempic packet. Ozempic was developed to treat type 2 diabetes, but is also commonly used to combat obesity.
Ozempic was developed to treat type 2 diabetes, but is also commonly used to combat obesity. Source: Getty

Now the mum is warning others to think twice before jumping on the Ozempic bandwagon, urging people to carefully consider how it might affect them. She's also made a vow to continue her weight-loss journey naturally.

Semaglutide — the anti-diabetic medication used in Ozempic — works by tricking the body into thinking it's full. It also slows the metabolism by increasing the time it takes for food to leave the body.

Nutritionist weighs in

According to Dr Emma Beckett, Adjunct Senior Lecturer at UNSW and FOODiQ Global, Watel's experience is not unique to her and many others have experienced similar, "scary" side effects.

"This isn’t uncommon, and isn’t surprising based on the appetite suppression," Beckett told Yahoo News Australia. "I have had people also describe feeling disgusted by food, and not being interested in eating anymore.

"This can be a challenge, because it can also de-motivate the eating of health promoting core foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy, and some people end up with a very bland diet. This is why medication isn’t a solution alone and nutrition support is needed."

Roy Webster and his late wife Trish.
Roy Webster is urging people to think twice before taking diabetes drugs like Ozempic for weight loss, after his wife Trish's tragic death. Source: 60 Minutes.

Beckett explained drugs being "designed for one thing" and "then becoming common and useful for something else" isn’t unusual. "Viagra (used for erectile dysfunction) was originally for angina, rogaine (for baldness) was designed to reduce high blood pressure and tamoxifen (used for breast cancer) was designed to treat infertility," she said.

"But, using a medication for diabetes, a medical condition often requiring medication, is a whole different thing to using medication for weight which might not actually need medication, and might not need to be a focus when instead we could be looking at health. For weight and general health there is a much bigger and more complex tool kit."

It's healthier to focus on health, not weight, Beckett added. "Why not aim to get stronger, fitter or better nourished instead? Your body, weight, life and choices are unique, what works for you might not work for others and what works for others might not work for you," she said.

Husband's plea after wife dies while using Ozempic

Last year, Yahoo News reported on a 56-year-old Aussie mother who died while taking Ozempic, which her husband believes was a factor in her death.

Roy Webster said his wife Trish simply wanted to a lose a few kilograms for their daughter's upcoming wedding, but died five months after she started taking the drug. The mother, 56, lost a total of 16 kilos from taking Ozempic, which she saw advertised on TV.

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