Before opting to try prescription or over-the counter weight-loss drugs, evaluate if they’re right for you.
For an overweight individual, the appeal of weight loss pills is undeniable. Who wouldn’t want to pop a magical pill that promises to burn fat, melt inches and sculpt your figure with little or no effort? Weight loss products everywhere promise these unrealistic results, and millions of luckless hopefuls flock to buy them.
Even though we know that everything about diet pills goes against the grain of what we’ve been taught—that weight loss occurs only through eating well and exercise—we’re willing to believe the myth that somehow these little pills and supplements are going to completely change our lives and make us skinnier, healthier people. Is it true, though? Do weight loss drugs work, and more importantly, are they safe?
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Prescription Weight-Loss Drugs
The history of prescription weight-loss drugs is frightening and is shadowed by products that have been dangerous to our health and sometimes fatal. Phen-phen and Meridia, both formerly popular weight-loss drugs, were pulled from the market by the FDA because of increased heart health problems, including stroke and heart attack.
The most common three in use now, Diethylpropion, Phentermine, and Orlistat, pose potential health problems as well. Diethylpropion causes an increase in blood pressure, which can result in various health problems, and Phentermine has been linked to certain heart conditions with long-term use and prescription misuse. Orlistat, the most recent to come under scrutiny, is currently under FDA evaluation. Reports of serious liver injury have come to surface, which contradicts former claims that Orlistat is a safer alternative than its other weight-loss counterparts.
Over-the-counter Weight Loss Drugs and Supplements
Prescription weight-loss drugs seem less appealing because of the potential negative health consequences, so many people explore then use over-the-counter and herbal weight-loss supplements. However, there are dangers here as well. The FDA hasn’t approved these products for use in weight-loss, and as a consequence, they aren’t heavily monitored for effectiveness or safety. It doesn’t seem logical to waste money on products that might not work and could hurt you, but they are still being sold at an alarming rate.
Some popular over-the-counter drugs such as Alli are currently being investigated by the FDA for possible liver injury, and many herbal supplements have gotten a bad reputation as well. Country Mallow (heartleaf) and Ephedra have been banned by the FDA, and while bitter orange hasn’t been banned, it is considered to be likely unsafe. Other supplements are considered to be likely safe, but there is no data to measure if they are effective for weight-loss.
Making a Choice
With the information available, it’s important to evaluate every aspect of a weight-loss product you are considering. It is true that some weight-loss drugs can aid in losing weight, combined with diet and exercise, but there is no mythical drug anywhere at any time that allows you to shed pounds without work. Doctors only prescribe prescription weight-loss drugs to those who fit a category of obesity that is linked to serious health problems—blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease—and don’t consider them to be the first-in-line treatment option for obesity.
Before considering any medication or change in diet, consult your doctor for the most appropriate course of action. There is no quick solution to weight-loss, so don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of, or take take a pill or supplement that can be potentially life-threatening.