More than ever before, people are seeking quick, easy ways to lose weight. While the benefits of maintaining an ideal weight reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer, many choose the convenient route of diet pills and supplements over long-term lifestyle changes. To them, it seems easier to swallow a few pills or drink a diet shake than find time in a busy schedule for regular exercise. At first glance, diet pills may seem cheaper than expensive, high-quality food necessary for healthy eating. They can be found in nearly any pharmacy, grocery store, or online. But are they really as easy and safe as the labels claim. Do they hold up to promises of quick, efficient weight loss? When considering these questions, the answers may make you think twice about the products advertised to melt away those extra pounds.
Over-the-counter dietary aids often contain high levels of caffeine, and other chemicals or additives that can cause adverse side-effects in some people. Unlike prescription medications or supplements, you cannot ask a pharmacist or physician what side-effects might be present. The lack of information about risks can lead to heart palpitations, dizziness, poor nutrient absorption, stomach trouble, headaches, decreased sexual function and even more serious issues such as heart attack or liver problems.
We take for granted that our food and medication has been through rigorous laboratory testing to ensure it's safe for human use, but that's not always the case with OTC diet pills. Unfortunately, many of these supplements go through minimal testing, may contain ingredients from questionable sources and aren't regulated by the FDA. Though the FDA can call for a product to be pulled from shelves after multiple complaints and injuries, the damage has already been done. In fact, several well-known and once popular dietary aids have been banned because of the dangers they posed.
The diet aid industry is massive, with customers spending millions-even billions- each year. Sadly, those with eating disorders often misuse and overuse dietary aids. People who suffer from these disorders may become dangerously underweight due to appetite suppressants present in many diet pills. Some products even have addictive chemicals and drugs in the mix. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, amphetamines and even caffeine can all contribute to addiction. When misused, diet pills can lead to feelings of energy and euphoria, not unlike the effects of some illegal drugs. Worse, if you combine these aids with other drugs, such as laxatives, other diet supplements, or medications, you can cause permanent organ damage.
Aside from all the health risks, unregulated ingredients, and possible addictive qualities many of these pills present, most aren't even very effective for long-term weight loss. While a company may promise immediate benefits and results, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In fact, a recent report from the US Department of Health and Human services found that 20% of 127 products made false or illegal claims on their labels. Further studies concluded that while those taking diet aids may see a short-term drop in weight, much of this weight is from water purged or absorbed by the supplement rather than fat. Losing weight this way is short-term and has no health benefit whatsoever. If you want to diet, it's far safer to consult with a physician about the proper steps to take; your doctor can advise a safe, effective weight-loss treatment.