With obesity growing in epidemic proportions, the market is saturated with advertising for over-the-counter and prescription weight loss drugs. But do diet pills really work? In many cases, these so-called weight loss remedies may do more harm than good. Also, there is truly no pill that can substitute for poor eating and exercise habits. While some people can benefit from weight loss drugs, in most cases the risks outweigh the benefits.
Metformin, a prescription drug usually reserved for diabetes treatment, is sometimes prescribed “off label” to help people lose weight. While 90 percent of the women studied by New York Medical College professionals lost about 10 percent of their body weight, it usually took them about a year to do so. Also, side effects such as nausea and diarrhea may contribute more to weight loss from metformin and other medications such as prescription Xenical or over-the-counter Alli than anything else.
Many over-the-counter weight loss drugs may be ineffective or even dangerous. Some “natural” remedies such as the appetite suppressant ephedra did help some people lose a few extra pounds, but were ultimately banned due to unacceptable risk to the heart.
Some over-the-counter diet pills are really nothing more than caffeine, diuretics, or laxatives. Taking these especially in excessive quantities can upset the body’s electrolyte balance and in some cases even cause death. Laxatives and diuretics are especially prone to abuse and do not help people lose weight permanently.
While it might sound cliché, there really is no magic pill. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat healthier foods and exercise more. Even cutting out 200 calories a day can help you shed extra pounds without the potential danger and expense of weight loss drugs.