Are Weight Loss Pills Safe?

Updated at: Mar 15, 2013
Are Weight Loss Pills Safe?

Weight Loss-There is no magic pill for weight loss. In the quest of becoming looking good most of us try to take short routes. Weight loss pill is one of the same, there safety is still a question of debate so it is advisable to give due considera

Editorial Team
Weight ManagementWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Jul 04, 2011

Are Weight Loss Pills Safe

There is no magic pill for weight loss. And the complications in the past with weight-loss medications has made people wary of weight-loss medications


In the late1990s studies showed that almost one third of the people on fen-phen, (an effective and popular drug for weight loss) developed heart valve disease. Fen-phen, was a combination of fenfluramine and phentermine hydrochloride. The exact cause of heart disease due to Fen-phen is not known. Similarly diet drugs used in the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s, were also associated with complications. Amphetamines popular in 1950s for weight loss caused problems like risk of addiction, depression and heart problems and dinitrophenol used in 30s for weight loss lead to blindness and death.


[Read: Side-effects of Weight Loss Pills]


The complications of the past have led to greater caution in prescribing weight-loss medications available currently in the market. To minimize adverse reactions it is recommended that the currently available medications should not be prescribed for no longer than three months.


The currently, available drugs include:

  • Sibutramine and
  • Orlistat

Both these medications are considered safe for use up to one year. A study on sibutramine, showed that it is effective and safe for use up to two years.


[Read: How to Lose Weight without Pills]


Who Needs Diet Drugs?


Consider use of these drugs only for health reason like obesity-related medical conditions—such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or severe arthritis—or if you are at high risk of developing such conditions. This is done minimize the side effects associated with weight-loss drugs. Do not start these drugs without consulting your doctor.


Experts recommend that weight-loss drugs should be prescribed only to patients with BMI greater than 30 or greater than 27 if they have weight-related health problems. Appropriate use of these drugs for a limited period for people who really need them offers benefits that outweigh their risks.


Weight loss medications promote weight loss more quickly than would have been possible without the medications. But even when you are on these medications you have to follow healthy eating and diet plan and do exercises. After you achieve your target weight you will need a lifelong commitment to diet, exercise, and behavior modification to maintain the gain---- as medications offer a short term help or cure.


Only two anti-obesity medications are currently approved by the FDA for long term use. One is ORLISTAT, which reduces intestinal fat absorption by inhibiting pancreatic enzyme called lipase. Diarrhea and incontinence of stools may be side-effects of this medicine. 


The other is SIBUTRAMINE which acts on the brain to inhibit deactivation of some neurotransmitters therefore reducing the appetite. It works by making the person feel full and thereby decreases food intake. It may cause an increase in blood pressure and should not be used by people who are on a number of other medications, such as antidepressants.


Rimonabant is another drug which acts by blocking cannabinoid system in cannabis smokers who experience severe hunger. Weight loss with these drugs is modest; over the longer term. There is however little data on how these drugs affect the long term complications or outcomes of obesity.



Read more articles on Weight Loss




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