Weight Loss Pills Explained

Weight Loss Pills Explained



Within the​ pharmaceutical industry,​ obesity is​ now seen as​ the​ "trillion dollar disease". That's the​ estimated amount of​ profit a​ successful weight loss drug can expect to​ make. But are companies getting close to​ delivering a​ diet pill that really works - meaning,​ a​ pill that is​ both safe and effective at​ solving obesity? the​ answer,​ it​ seems,​ is​ No.

Pills to​ Reduce Obesity

It's true that the​ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a​ tiny number of​ weight loss pills like Xenical and Meridia for long term use in​ the​ treatment of​ obesity (BMI > 30). But evidence accumulated in​ clinical trials suggests that the​ effectiveness of​ these obesity drugs is​ less than impressive. Total annual weight reduction tends to​ be in​ the​ range 8-20 pounds. Furthermore,​ the​ highest weight loss tends to​ be achieved by patients who participate in​ supervised trials involving a​ combination of​ drug treatment,​ diet,​ exercise and counseling. Which makes it​ difficult to​ ascertain the​ precise effect of​ the​ medication itself. By comparison,​ less well supervised obesity drug trials tend to​ have a​ higher drop-out rate and reduced weight loss. And the​ longer the​ trial,​ the​ lower the​ compliance and the​ lower the​ weight loss. in​ short,​ while helpful to​ some patients,​ weight loss drugs are not yet the​ answer to​ obesity,​ especially when factors like cost are taken into account.

Should we​ be surprised? Not really. After all,​ even bariatric surgery is​ no guarantee of​ long term weight loss unless patients comply with the​ necessary post-operative dietary regimen. Indeed,​ some obesity experts claim that medical interventions like drugs and surgery are almost by definition doomed to​ failure,​ for the​ simple reason that they take control and responsibility away from patients. According to​ this view,​ it​ is​ only when patients accept full responsibility for their eating habits and lifestyle,​ that they have a​ real chance of​ achieving a​ normal weight in​ the​ long term.

Unfortunately,​ this view satisfies no one! it​ doesn't satisfy the​ pharmaceutical companies,​ who need to​ make money. it​ doesn't satisfy doctors,​ who need to​ give hope to​ their overweight patients,​ and it​ doesn't satisfy consumers who want instant weight loss without having to​ change their eating habits. in​ short,​ there is​ an​ overwhelming demand for an​ obesity pill,​ but a​ viable product has yet to​ emerge.

Pills For Cosmetic Weight Loss

Demand for diet pills is​ not limited to​ those suffering from clinical obesity. Millions of​ consumers with less than 40 pounds to​ lose take non-prescription pills to​ burn off body fat or​ increase their rate of​ weight loss. According to​ a​ study conducted by the​ University of​ Michigan,​ almost 25 percent of​ girl students turn to​ anorectic diet pills when they're trying to​ lose weight,​ including laxatives and diuretics.

These non-prescription pills are more difficult to​ evaluate,​ as​ they are not subject to​ the​ same high level of​ regulation as​ prescription-only drugs. Thus not all ingredients need to​ be tested,​ dosages and other labeling requirements are less stringent,​ and reporting of​ "adverse events" or​ health problems is​ not mandatory. Furthermore,​ few long term clinical trials are conducted on​ non-prescription pills,​ so hard evidence as​ to​ their safety and efficacy is​ scarce. Meantime,​ the​ huge profits to​ be made from these weight loss products means they can be supported by expensive advertising campaigns to​ increase consumer acceptance,​ making regulation and control even more of​ an​ uphill struggle. Indeed,​ the​ FDA has found it​ almost impossible to​ ban over-the-counter diet pills,​ even after reports of​ illness and injury.

Herbal Diet Pills For "Healthy Eating"

The past five years has seen a​ huge rise in​ sales of​ herbal diet pills,​ which are marketed as​ a​ form of​ "healthy eating". These herbal supplements typically include a​ variable combination of​ vitamins and other active ingredients which supposedly offer a​ healthier type of​ weight loss. Such claims are not generally supported by clinical evidence,​ and some suppliers are under investigation by both the​ FDA and FTC. Nevertheless,​ rising demand for these herbal weight loss pills is​ yet another confirmation of​ our huge appetite for what is​ essentially a​ non-dietary approach to​ weight control.

How Do Weight Loss Pills Work?

In simple terms,​ weight loss pills are designed either to​ alter body chemistry in​ order to​ reduce appetite,​ or​ to​ interfere with digestion in​ order to​ reduce calorie absorption. Appetite suppressants include amphetamine-like stimulants such as​ ephedra,​ or​ pills to​ increase serotonin or​ norepinephrine levels in​ the​ brain. Pills that interfere with the​ digestive system include fat-blockers (lipase inhibitors) like Xenical and chitosan,​ carb-blockers,​ and very high fiber bulking agents such as​ glucomannan.

Are Weight Loss Pills Safe?

Obesity drugs are generally safe when used correctly and under medical supervision. the​ trouble starts when users do not follow the​ manufacturer's instructions. Adverse health events for these pharmaceuticals include heart or​ blood pressure problems and strokes,​ as​ well a​ range of​ less serious complaints. the​ same applies to​ non-prescription diet pills,​ whose adverse health effects include high blood pressure,​ heart palpitations,​ irregular heartbeats,​ dizziness,​ blurred vision,​ headaches,​ insomnia,​ intestinal blockages,​ anxiety and depression. in​ extreme cases,​ both prescription-only and non-prescription pills can cause life-threatening conditions. Even so,​ safety remains a​ relative concept. Cigarettes,​ alcohol,​ cars and stress kill millions of​ people every year. By comparison with these things,​ diet pills cause far fewer "casualties",​ and if​ you consult your doctor before taking them,​ you can reduce the​ health risk to​ a​ minimum.

The Real Problem With Weight Loss Pills

The biggest problem about relying on​ drugs and supplements to​ lose weight is​ not health,​ it's reliability. in​ my 20-odd years of​ dealing with overweight individuals and their families,​ I have yet to​ hear of​ anyone who achieved and maintained any significant weight loss by using pills. But I have met a​ huge number of​ people whose weight and emotional state of​ mind had been significantly worsened through the​ use of​ pills. They were afraid of​ food,​ they had absolutely no confidence in​ their ability to​ make sensible food choices,​ and tended to​ rely on​ purging,​ laxatives and similar products to​ control their eating habits. One client - a​ former annual weight loss winner with one of​ the​ major dieting companies - had been fed deliberately with pills in​ order to​ achieve the​ weight reduction that the​ organization required. When she came to​ me for help,​ she had regained 70 pounds of​ her original weight loss. in​ short,​ relying on​ pills for weight control can mess up your body and your mind.

The Small Print Says it​ All

Advertisements and infomercials for diet pills are dominated by headlines like: "Effortless Weight Loss" or​ "Lose Weight While You Sleep!" and so on. But the​ small print often tells a​ different story - either that users should follow a​ calorie-controlled diet,​ or​ only eat at​ certain times of​ the​ day,​ or​ stop eating certain high-calorie foods,​ or​ some combination of​ all three. There may also be a​ reference to​ the​ need for exercise. in​ other words,​ if​ you want the​ truth about a​ weight loss pill,​ check the​ small print. Because,​ as​ all obesity experts and dietitians will tell you,​ no long term reduction in​ weight is​ possible without controlling energy intake and expenditure.

If You Must Take Pills

Whether you are a​ diet pill addict,​ or​ just an​ occasional user,​ here are two ways to​ make weight loss easier. Look for a​ healthy,​ gimmick-free diet,​ and follow it​ as​ carefully as​ you can. in​ the​ process,​ focus on​ healthy eating rather than calorie reduction. Aiming to​ eat healthily is​ much more positive than calorie control. Secondly,​ join an​ online dieting forum and get encouragement and advice from other people. Because all surveys show that losing weight is​ a​ lot easier when you have others to​ lean on. My own forum for instance includes a​ large number of​ former diet pill users who are now enjoying their food and losing significant amounts of​ weight in​ the​ process. Which proves that when it​ comes to​ weight control,​ people power is​ much more effective than popping pills.




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