From Pharmacy Drug Guide
Diet pills may be recommended for significantly overweight individuals who have excess body fat. Some diet pills are prescribed by doctors, while others are available for purchase over the counter from drug stores, grocery stores, health food stores and over the Internet. While some diet pills (particularly prescription pills) have been shown to result in weight loss, all come with some degree of side effects and risks. The majority of diet pills available over the counter have not been shown to work, and are not held up to the same FDA scrutiny as prescriptions. Alli® is the only FDA-approved OTC weight loss drug.
Weight loss is typically the result of diet and exercise. In a few cases, diet pills can be effective when used in conjunction with lifestyle changes. However, one study of 2,800 individuals who shed pounds and kept the weight off for a year showed that just 4% of them used pills. Evidence like this suggests that in the long term, diet pills are not necessarily the answer to weight loss.
Flickr: Tacit Requiem
|Used for||Weight loss|
|Suitable for||People with a body mass index of 30 or higher|
|Types of prescription diet pills||Meridia®, Xenical®, phentermine, diethylpropion, phendimetrazine, others|
|FDA Approval||The FDA has not evaluated the vast majority of nonprescription diet pills, although prescriptions are FDA approved. Alli® is the only OTC diet pill with FDA approval. |
|Types of diet pills||Appetite suppressants; metabolism boosters; fat or carb blockers|
|Disclaimer||The information provided by PharmacyDrugGuide.com is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Do not take any action based on the information on this page without consulting a physician.|
About Diet Pills
The majority of diet pills on the market are billed as appetite suppressants, meaning that they claim to stop hunger and food cravings in users so that fewer calories are consumed. Other types of pills block the absorption of fat or carbohydrates from foods eaten; Alli® is one of these, as it prevents the digestion of some fats. Diet pills of both types can be obtained via prescription as well as over the counter.
The vast majority of prescription diet pills are only for short-term use, and are not considered safe enough to use for extended periods of time. There are two exceptions to this:
- Meridia® (sibutrimine): This drug works as a metabolism booster, and is reported to increase energy. Meridia® can elevate blood pressure. It is not considered safe for patients with heart conditions or hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Xenical®/Alli® (orlistat): Orlistat is a fat blocker that comes in prescription strength Xenical® or OTC Alli®. It works by absorbing just under a third of the fat consumed. It comes with some unpleasant side effects, like oily anal leakage and loss of control of bowel movements. These side effects are more pronounced when high amounts of fat are consumed while on the medication.
Over the Counter Diet Pills
Over-the-counter diet pills are not held to the same standards as prescription pills, and do not need to be proven safe or effective before they are placed on the market. As a result, most of these products have not been adequately tested to determine if they indeed live up to the claims on the labels -- and they can also be harmful to the health. In some cases the FDA will issue alerts against diet pills or the ingredients used in them. These alerts are posted on the Web.
How to Use Diet Pills Safely
While diet pills may help some individuals lose weight, they are typically not perceived as a permanent solution by the medical community. In order to successfully lose weight, whether aided by diet pills or not, it is necessary to burn off more calories than one consumes. This may entail a reduction of food intake and/or a switch to lower-calorie foods, a switch to water over sweetened beverages, and an increase in exercise level. Once the desired weight has been achieved, it is necessary to burn of as many calories as are eaten in order to prevent further changes in weight.
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