I’ve been on a weight-loss drug like Ozempic for nearly a DECADE. The good, bad and ugly,


A Florida woman who has been taking a weight-loss injection for nearly a decade is urging Americans to stop taking these drugs solely for weight loss. 

Danielle Payton, 33, is thought to be one of the longest-serving patients on a GLP-1 agonist, which was first approved in 2010. 

These drugs are at the center of concerns about long-term safety risks, already being linked to severe vomiting and suicidal thoughts.

Ms Payton – a publicist – began taking the once-daily injection Victoza – a precursor to Ozempic and Wegovy – in 2014 to stave off type 2 diabetes.

She weighed 209 pounds at the time and was prediabetic. She was told by her doctor if she didn’t lose weight, she would have to add diabetes to her long list of chronic illnesses.

Danielle Payton, 33, of Florida, started taking Victoza in 2014 for prediabetes. At the time, she weighed 209 pounds. Though she wasn't taking it for weight loss, she lost what she estimates was 80 pounds

Danielle Payton, 33, of Florida, started taking Victoza in 2014 for prediabetes. At the time, she weighed 209 pounds. Though she wasn't taking it for weight loss, she lost what she estimates was 80 pounds

Danielle Payton, 33, of Florida, started taking Victoza in 2014 for prediabetes. At the time, she weighed 209 pounds. Though she wasn’t taking it for weight loss, she lost what she estimates was 80 pounds

Ms Payton now fluctuates between 120 and 130 pounds, and she no longer has most of the physical side effects she experienced at first

Ms Payton now fluctuates between 120 and 130 pounds, and she no longer has most of the physical side effects she experienced at first

Ms Payton originally went to her doctor for a breast reduction. She was a size 38F at the time. 

‘[The doctor] wouldn’t put me on the operating table, and he said I had to lose weight,’ Ms Payton told DailyMail.com.

She had to get down to 165 pounds before the doctor would perform the surgery.

Doctors said that taking the medication could help her lose a bit of weight, though the drug is not approved for weight loss.

‘I never thought it would go this route of losing so much weight because of an injection that ended up being not to lose weight,’ Ms Payton said. 

‘I was given a shot and told, “This is going to stop you from getting diabetes. The side effect is you might lose a little weight.”‘

Now, nine years later, Ms Payton is down to 120 to 130 pounds. 

‘I was not told, nor did I even think, that I could lose between 80 and 90 pounds. Ever,’ she said. 

Victoza was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010 to treat type 2 diabetes in adults.

Similar to popular injections Ozempic and Wegovy, the drug binds to the GLP-1 receptor, which triggers hormones in the brain to slow digestion and keep the stomach full. This reduces cravings and the risk of overeating. 

Unlike these, which use the active ingredient semaglutide, Victoza uses liraglutide. While the drugs are largely similar, some studies suggest semaglutide is more effective for weight loss. 

A study published last year in JAMA, for example, found that participants who took semaglutide had a 16 percent weight change compared to liraglutide participants who saw a 6.4 percent difference. 

However, there’s little long-term data on GLP-1 agonists. And, neither Ozempic nor Victoza are FDA approved for weight loss.  

Despite surging across the US, there have been widespread fears about Ozempic, which has been linked to detrimental side effects like severe vomiting and suicidal thoughts. 

Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, manufacturers of Ozempic and sister drug Wegovy, have also come under fire in a lawsuit over claims the drugs cause gastroparesis, or stomach paralysis. 

On Victoza, Ms Payton’s weight loss was gradual.  

‘It doesn’t come off immediately. You start seeing results after a couple months,’ she said. ‘It really took me like seven months to go from like 209 to 175.’

She estimates that it took about seven years total to get down to her current weight.  

Victoza is a once-daily injection approved for type 2 diabetes. Like Ozempic, it is not approved for weight loss

Victoza is a once-daily injection approved for type 2 diabetes. Like Ozempic, it is not approved for weight loss

Ms Payton believes she will have to stay on Victoza for the rest of her life to keep from getting diabetes. '[Victoza] is part of my daily routine, and my daily routine is what keeps me from getting progressively sicker, so as much as it sucks, it's also what keeps me going,' she said

Ms Payton believes she will have to stay on Victoza for the rest of her life to keep from getting diabetes. ‘[Victoza] is part of my daily routine, and my daily routine is what keeps me from getting progressively sicker, so as much as it sucks, it’s also what keeps me going,’ she said

She also didn’t intentionally change her diet. However, she found herself choosing odd combinations. ‘Your taste buds change,’ Ms Payton said. 

‘When I first went on the injection, I thought I was like a pregnant, hormonal woman. All I wanted was pickles, green juices, and like the weirdest things that I had never craved before in my life.’

‘It’s not that I changed my diet, per se…it’s that the shot actually changes how you look at food, what food becomes attractive to you, at least in my experience.’ 

‘It’s a mind game.’ 

Victoza also slashed Ms Payton’s appetite, which is a common side effect. 

When she first started taking it, she would go to the grocery store and stock up on a fridge full of healthy foods.

However, ‘I would look at it and say, “None of this looks appetizing.” I couldn’t eat it anymore.’

She also experienced constipation and bouts of nausea and vomiting, which have since subsided.

Ms Payton has since nixed the weird cravings, but they have left her with more sustainable habits. 

Instead of giving into temptation and snacking too much, she now only eats when she’s hungry.

‘The shots basically taught me to do that,’ she said. 

However, Victoza has left a lasting impact on her social life and mental health.

Friends have shamed her at group dinners for not being hungry, even when those friends have gone on to take Victoza and similar drugs for weight loss rather than diabetes. 

‘There’s a lot of shame that comes with taking the shot,’ Ms Payton said. 

Losing so much weight has led to judgment.

‘It’s a stark difference for your friends,’ she said. 

‘Unfortunately, friendships have been lost over taking medications like this. People have been like “You’re too thin.” And I’m like “You don’t get it. This is not a choice.”‘

Doctors have told Ms Payton that she will likely have to remain on Victoza for the rest of her life to keep from developing diabetes. 

She takes about a dozen other medications every day for multiple chronic illnesses and said that staying on Victoza is well worth not having to deal with diabetes. 

‘If I don’t have to get diabetes and go on multiple other medications, to me, that’s a win,’ she said.

‘[Victoza] is part of my daily routine, and my daily routine is what keeps me from getting progressively sicker, so as much as it sucks, it’s also what keeps me going.’

Staying on the medication long-term has been difficult as Victoza, much like Ozempic and Wegovy, has been affected by shortages from it becoming more and more popular.

Last December, she had to go off the shot for several months, leading her to gain back 15 pounds. 

‘I was freaking out. I was like, “You guys don’t need it. You’re just doing this to get thin, and I’m doing this so I don’t get diabetes,”‘ she said. 

‘It is a vicious, vicious game.’ 

Despite her mental health and social struggles, Ms Payton still considers the medication a healthy option for prediabetics and diabetics.

‘Just don’t listen to the background chatter and do it for yourself so that you can lead a healthy life going forward…so you’re not stuck with diabetes,’ she said. 

However, she encourages those taking diabetes shots for weight loss to seek out other options.  

‘Really take into consideration that people actually need this medicine and that there are other ways that those people can lose weight,’ she said. 

‘Please stop taking the supply that’s left in this country because it is dwindling by the day. And we don’t know whether we’ll be able to get the next script.’ 



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