Some people choose to pause weight loss medications during the holidays. Is it safe?

For many people, the holiday season is a time of holiday feasting, from dinners to cocktail parties and special desserts.

Amidst all the celebration, some people like Julie Kelly, a 41-year-old from North Carolina, decided to pause the drugs they were taking to help them lose weight, drugs like Ozempic , Wegovy and Mounjaro.

Kelly, who lost 38 pounds by taking semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy, told “Good Morning America” ​​that she skipped her dose of semaglutide over the Thanksgiving holiday, and that also what he does every Christmas. She says the break helps her feel uncomfortably full with food and prompts fewer questions from friends and family about what she is, or isn’t, eating.

“What I noticed was that I was still able to eat things that I really wanted, to indulge a little bit,” Kelly said of her Thanksgiving experience. “I just have to be really conscious about how I’m feeling, what I’m eating, how fast I’m eating it.”

In recent years, the use of drugs that can lead to weight loss has risen in popularity.

The US Food and Drug Administration has both approved Ozempic and Mounjaro to treat Type 2 diabetes, but some doctors are prescribing the drug “off-label” for weight loss, as permitted by the FDA.

A pharmacist holds a box of Novo Nordisk A/S Ozempic brand semaglutide medication that has been prepared at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on Nov. 27, 2023.

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Wegovy is FDA approved for weight loss.

Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro require a prescription and are not sold over the counter.

In November, the FDA approved another drug, known as Zepbound, as a weight loss management treatment for people who are obese, or those who are overweight with at least one associated condition, such as high blood pressure. As a diabetes drug, it is sold under the brand name Mounjaro, as the two drugs contain the same active ingredient, tirzepatide.

PHOTO: Eli Lilly & Co.  Mounjaro brand tirzepatide drug dispensed at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on Nov.  27, 2023.

Eli Lilly & Co. Mounjaro brand tirzepatide drug dispensed at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on Nov. 27, 2023.

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Clinical studies show that users of the drugs can lose between 5% and 20% of their body weight on the drugs over time.

Caley Svensson, a 39-year-old from New Jersey, says she lost 90 pounds on Mounjaro. During the holiday season, he said he also chooses to cut back on medication, but for financial reasons.

Svensson said her prescription was not covered by insurance, so she paid more than $1,000 out-of-pocket total for four single-use doses. During the holidays, Svensson said he stretches out his doses beyond the usual week so he can use the money for other expenses, including Christmas presents.

“If I can stretch it to 10 days instead of every week, that helps me push, you know, the cost a little bit,” Svensson told “GMA,” adding that by stretching the his doses, he could save a few “hundreds of extra dollars.”

On the other hand, when Oprah Winfrey revealed earlier this month that she was using a drug to help her maintain her weight loss, she said she took the drug strategically before Thanksgiving to help her eat more. little.

“I knew I was going to have two solid weeks of eating, and instead of gaining eight pounds like I did last year, I gained half a pound,” she told People magazine. “It silences the noise of food.”

Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro are all injectable drugs that are usually prescribed to be taken once per week.

Side effects of the drugs can include severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation

said Dr. Veronica Johnson, an obesity medicine specialist at Northwestern Medicine, told “GMA” that while there are no known long-term effects of pausing and restarting medications, doing so can lead to an increase in side effects such as increased appetite and nausea, as well as weight gain.

“If a patient skips their medication for one to two weeks, there is the potential for them to have some heightened side effects,” said Johnson, who does not treat Winfrey, Svensson or Kelly. “They may not see improvements in their hunger and appetite, and so they may avoid eating more and may contribute to some weight gain.”

It is advised to consult a physician before discontinuing weight loss medications to reduce the risk of side effects.

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