In the United States alone, more than 70,000,000 people have been looking for weight loss treatments to help them lose weight. Just like you, there are many people researching into diet pills to find the best one available to suit their requirements. The problem you'll find is that there are so many weight loss pills out there and it's hard to find the best one without reading for hours and hours on end.
Weight Loss Pills
"Every day a new weight loss "wonder pill" pops up. The question we asked when they first came into the market was, do these pills really work? The answer is YES and NO."
Each year, about 17.2 million Americans buy diet and weight loss pills hoping to lose weight. Using drugs to speed up weight loss, burn extra fat or control obesity has always been irresistible. Many dieters prefer to use weight loss pills or diet drugs to control their weight and shape rather than follow a healthy diet and exercise plan.
Weight Loss Pills
History of Diet & Weight Loss Drugs and Pills
In the 50s and 60s diet pills were mainly amphetamine derivatives (speed). But due to addiction, doctors stopped prescribing drugs for weight loss. Diet and exercise then replaced drug therapy, temporarily. But in 1973 the FDA (the food and drug administration) approved a new drug for weight loss, called fenfluramine (trade name Pondimin). Then came dexfenfluramine (trade name Redux) in 1996. Some doctors prescribed phentermine (another type of weight loss medication) in combination with fenfluramine and the combined weight-loss drug was called fen-phen. Phentermine was also used in combination with dexfenfluramine (known as dex-fen-phen).
Weight Loss Pills
The drugs worked by increasing Serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical (neurotransmitter) associated with improved mood, appetite and satiety. Fen-phen had a double action. It tricked the brain into believing the stomach was full, and increased a person's metabolic rate.
People did lose weight on these diet and weight-loss medications, but in 1997 after reports of heart valve disease, the makers of fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine withdrew these diet pills from the market. Prescriptions were no longer written for Redux, Pondimin or fen-phen.
Weight Loss Pills
During the 18 months that fenfluramine (Pondimin) and dexfenfluramine (Redux) were being used as weight loss drugs, 14m prescriptions were written for people who wanted to lose weight..
The medication drug called Sibutramine (trade name Meridia) is the newest weight-loss drug currently being prescribed and many others are in development or waiting for FDA approval.
Weight Loss and Diet Pills May Help Reduce Obesity
Faced with this epidemic of overweight, it's hardly surprising that doctors are increasingly turning to weight loss drugs and diet pills to help reduce obesity and improve associated health risks.
Types of Weight Loss and Diet Pills
There are two types of weight loss pills:
- Prescription Pills (available on doctor's prescription only)
These are referred to as weight loss or diet drugs.
- Nonprescription Pills (available over-the-counter)
These are typically called weight loss or dietary supplements.
Prescription Weight Loss and Diet Pills - Weight Loss Drugs Most brands of prescription diet pills, like Adipex, Bontril, Didrex, Ionamin, Phentermine and Tenuate work by reducing appetite. They stimulate the brain and nerves, which increases heart rate and blood pressure and typically decreases appetite. These weight loss diet pills are FDA-approved only for short-term use (typically from a few weeks to a few months). Only Meridia is FDA-approved for long-term use.
Weight Loss Pills That Inhibit Fat Uptake
Xenical is a relatively new type of prescription weight loss drug. Called a 'lipase inhibitor' (lipase means fat), Xenical works in the gut and stops up to 30 percent of fat (and therefore fat-calories) from being digested.
Xenical is combined with a low-fat diet. Although bowel movements are affected, Xenical does not affect the nervous system, blood pressure or metabolism and thus is considered ideal for patients with hypertension or heart risks.
Off-label Use for Diet & Weight Loss Pills The FDA regulates how a manufacturer can advertise and promote a diet medication. These regulations restrict a doctors ability to prescribe diet and weight loss pills for different conditions in larger doses or for different lengths of time. The practice of prescribing weight loss medication for periods of time or for unapproved conditions is know as off-label use. Using more than one appetite suppressant medication at a time (combined drug treatment) or using a currently approved appetite suppressant medication for more than a few weeks is also considered off-label use.
How Effective Are Prescription Weight Loss and Diet Pills?
Prescription weight loss drugs are effective when combined with diet and exercise, as part of a medically supervised weight loss program. Studies vary, but an extra 10-15 percent loss of body weight (vs. placebo) is not uncommon over time.
Do Prescription Weight Loss and Diet Pills Have Side Effects?
Yes, but it's important to balance the health and side effects of weight loss pills with the risks of obesity. Remember, prescription diet pills are designed for patients who already have significant health risks. Side effects of prescription pills that decrease appetite include things like: restlessness or tremor, nervousness or anxiety, headache or dizziness, insomnia, dry mouth, diarrhea or constipation, or impotence. Exceptionally, there may be a risk of more serious side effects, (seizures, strokes) but these are rare events. Because prescription weight loss pills are stringently monitored by both manufacturers and the FDA, side effects are well sign-posted.
Dangers of Diet & Weight Loss Drugs
Diet and weight loss pills can have a significant impact on our blood pressure, metabolism and general health. Pills are not an easy option for easy or fast weight loss. Whether they assist weight loss or not, most diet and weight loss pills have unpleasant side effects, create drug-dependency and interfere with other medications. Weight loss medications are really designed for obesity control where the advantage of losing weight outweighs the disadvantage of side-effects. They are a short-term diet aid for severely overweight dieters. Finally, nearly all clinical trials of diet and weight loss pills show that weight loss drug therapy is only effective when part of a comprehensive weight management program of diet, exercise and weight loss support.
Diet & Weight Loss Pills
Diet and weight loss drugs or pills, whether prescription or over-the-counter weight loss supplements, are only effective when combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan.
Consult Your Doctor Before Using Prescription Weight Loss Pills
Whatever brand of prescription weight loss pills you use, you MUST consult your doctor. Ask for a full explanation of your weight control options (with or without pills) as well as the side effects and dangers of weight loss pills. Only you and your physician can make an informed choice as to whether weight loss medication can be a useful part of your weight-management program.
Don't Misuse Diet & Weight Loss Pills
Example 1 Weight loss pills can be very useful, but it's easy to allow yourself to be controlled by them. Meaning, instead of learning about calories, healthy eating habits and healthy fitness, we watch TV and eat pills. When this fails to achieve the 100 pound weight loss we're looking for, we quit. Then, a few months later we buy more pills and repeat the whole process. Example 2 Another way to misuse diet pills is to overdose. We think, if 4 pills a day helps me lose weight, then 8 pills a day must be better, right? Wrong! Be very careful when using diet pills or weight loss supplements - even herbal supplements. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and be sure to keep in touch with your doctor while you're taking the diet pills.
Weight Loss Pills Inappropriate For
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding
- You have a history of drug or alcohol abuse
- You have a history of an eating disorder
- You have a history of severe depression or manic-depressive disorder
- You are taking a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor or any other type of anti-depressant medication
- You get migraine headaches and take medication for them
- You have an unstable medical condition, such as glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease or a heart condition such as an irregular heartbeat.
Are Weight Loss Pills Appropriate for You?
You are female, 5'3", 121 pounds
pills are inappropriate for you. You have no health risk factor associated with your extra pounds. Instead of pills, you should follow a conventional weight loss plan which is lower-calorie and combined with exercise.
You are female, 5'4", 150 pounds and overweight
Diet/Weight Loss pills are not appropriate for you. You are overweight but not clinically obese. You should avoid diet and weight loss pills and instead follow a conventional low-calorie diet and exercise program.
You are female, 5'4" and weigh 190 pounds
Since you are clinically obese, then (subject to your health status and history) you are a candidate for weight loss pills. However, discuss your medication options with your doctor and ask about side-effects of suggested diet or weight loss pills. Lastly, don't rely exclusively on your weight loss medication. Be sure to follow a healthy diet and exercise program.
Diet Weight Loss Pills - Are they Effective
If 10 dieters take the same diet or weight loss pills and 8 of them lose weight, the diet drugs work, right? Not necessarily!
- Suppose weight loss is followed by weight regain?
- Suppose the diet drugs cause heart problems as well as weight loss?
- Suppose the diet or weight loss medications become addictive?
Diet & Weight Loss Pills vs. Diet Exercise Program
Suppose 100 dieters are divided into two diet groups. Group A is put on a weight loss diet and exercise program. Group B is given weight loss pills. Suppose Group B dieters lose the same amount of weight as Group A? Does this mean the diet or weight loss pills are effective? Is this weight loss (achievable by normal dietary and exercise methods) worth the huge cost of diet pills and weight loss supplements? Is it worth risking your long term health?
Diet & Weight Loss Pills Work Best When....
- You are seriously overweight (obese), or your weight poses health problems; and
- You have tried a conventional weight loss diet & exercise plan, without success; and
- Your doctor prescribes weight loss medication for you; and
- The diet or weight loss drug is part of a proper diet and exercise program; and
- Whatever weight loss pill you take, you follow manufacturer's instructions; and
- You revisit your doctor regularly to check whether the weight loss pills are working and be examined for side-effects; and
- You use diet & weight loss drugs as a short-term aid to weight control.
Studies on Weight Loss Pills Success
The idea that a diet pill or supplement can make losing weight easy is seductive - that's why dieters spend billions of dollars buying diet drugs and drug companies spend billions of dollars developing new weight loss pills. But while drug therapy offers hope of lower weight to many, studies show that weight loss medications work only when used in combination with a low calorie diet and exercise plan.
Side Effects of Diet & Weight Loss Pills
Diet/Weight Loss pills, both over-the-counter and prescription, (as recommended, continuously, or in excess) can cause the following: nervousness, restlessness, insomnia, high blood pressure, fatigue and hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias and palpitations, congestive heart failure or heart attack, stroke, headaches, dry mouth, vomitting and diarrhea or constipation, intestinal disturbances, tightness in chest, tingling in extremities, excessive persperation, dizziness, disruption in mentrual cycle, change in libido, hair loss, blurred vision, fever and urinary tract problems.
Overdoses can cause tremors, confusion, hallucinations, shallow breathing, renal failure, heart attack and convulsions. People who used some appetite suppressant medications for more than three months have a greater risk for developing primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) - a rare but potentially fatal disorder that affects the blood vessels in the lungs. Forty five percent of PPH victims die within 4 years of contracting the disorder, which affects about one in 22,000 to one in 44,000 patients per year. In a report published by the New England Journal of Medicine, UC San Francisco researchers linked diet and weight loss supplements to as many as 10 deaths and 20 heart attacks and strokes within the past two years.
Some of the harmful effects listed on the back label of diet pills include dry mouth, nightmares, nausea, diarrhea, irritability, head aches, passing out, dizziness, psychosis, seizure and anxiousness. Serious problems include high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, and brain hemorrhaging.
Side Effects of Over-the-counter Diet/Weight Loss Pills
The side-effects of less regulated over-the-counter Diet/Weight Loss pills and supplements can be especially severe as labelling and dosage requirements for these diet pills are too lax to guarantee consumer security. For example, a herbal diet pill was given to dieters at a Belgian weight loss clinic. Within 3 years, more than 100 dieters had kidney damage. Ten years later, several people who took these diet pills are developing urinary tract cancers.
Testing of Diet & Weight Loss Drugs
Weight-loss drugs have been subjected to very little testing. Almost no long-term studies have been produced. Research indicates that risks of certain diet and weight loss drugs increase dramatically the longer the drugs are used. In addition, many drugs produce minimal weight loss (independent of diet and exercise). Also, after discontinuing the use of these diet drugs, the weight is virtually always regained.
Potential Side Effects of Herbal Weight Loss Pills Can be Equally Dangerous
Anecdotal evidence suggests that consumers eager to speed weight loss frequently take multiple, more dangerous doses of weight-loss drugs. Vulnerable consumers have also been harmed by unregulated "natural" herbal, weight-loss drugs.
- In 2001, FDA issued a nationwide alert on the recall of thirteen herbal weight loss products because of a dangerous ingredient, because of potential damage to the kidneys.
- In 2002, the FDA is considering a criminal prosecution against a major producer of herbal weight loss pills.
Side Effects of Appetite Suppressants
Drug dependency with consequent withdrawal effects is one of the side effects of appetite suppressant weight loss pills. It is possible to become dependent on appetite suppressants. Signs of dependency include:
- A strong desire to continue taking the diet drug, even when it's effects fade
- A need to increase the dose to boost the effects of the appetite suppressant drug.
Withdrawal Side Effects These include:
- Noticeable mood swings.
- Insomnia and nightmares.
- Stomach Cramps or Pain.
- Severe irritability.
- Listlessness or extreme fatigue.
- Nausea, even vomiting.