There’s the saying that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. And as we feel the pressure to fit into society’s beauty norms, many feel the temptation to take a diet pill or weight loss drug to lose weight. However, they’re not magic pills and can actually cause more harm than good.
Weight loss drugs and diet pills come in different forms, including prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter diet supplements, such as vitamins. They can work by curbing one’s appetite or speeding up the metabolism with the goal of weight loss. A study of 28 prescription drugs used to treat obesity found that they worked best when the person taking them also made lifestyle changes.
Even so, over the years, many weight loss drugs and ingredients have been pulled from the market or even banned by the Food and Drug Administration because of dangerous side effects, including increased heart rate, kidney and liver problems, and cancer.
Diet weight loss drugs have a long history of being problematic. In the 1940s, people used amphetamines, and in the ‘60s, thyroid hormones. In the early ‘90s, “Fen Phen,” or fenfluramine-phentermine, was embraced by doctors and their patients who were looking to shed pounds. However, The New England Journal of Medicine found that there was a link between the drug and heart-valve disease, even in people who had only been taking it for a month. It was taken off the market in 1997.
Another ingredient, ephedra, was banned in 2004. It was used not only in diet pills, but also for people wanting an extra boost of energy, such as athletes. The FDA found that while the drug had “modest short-term” effects, it didn’t outweigh the cases of heart attack, seizure, stroke and even sudden death. People with existing cardiovascular problems were especially at risk of developing problems.
About 15 percent of adults say they take diet pills, but there are still plenty of different avenues you can take to reach a healthy weight.
In 2009, Hydroxycut was removed from the market when the FDA discovered 23 cases of liver damage and at least one death from using the drug. However, the company has managed to stay in business by changing its formula, first replacing ephedra with garcinia cambogia and then caffeine.
Most recently, Belviq was recalled in February 2020 because there were links between the drug and heart valve problems and cancer — most commonly, lung, pancreatic, and colorectal cancer. Because of this, the FDA requested a recall of the drug, which the manufacturer, Eisai Inc., did voluntarily. People who have taken Belviq should speak with their doctor and those who have been harmed may be eligible for compensation.
About 15 percent of adults say they take diet pills, but there are still plenty of different avenues you can take to reach a healthy weight. Here are a few suggestions — but remember, it’s always a good idea to talk to a doctor, nutritionist, or trainer you trust to make sure the path you choose is right for you.
Diet and Excersize
You’ve heard this more than once, and this is the most basic step to getting to a healthy weight. However, it’s important to find out which diet and exercise regimen is the best for your body and your goals. Also, planning ahead of time when you are going to exercise and what you are going to eat will help you be more accountable and less likely to opt for something in the drive-thru lane.
This is a diet program that has been proven to work if done correctly. Basically, instead of eating all day long, you choose hours during the day in which you will eat. Some will eat during an eight-hour window and fast for the other 16 hours in the day — this is essentially eliminating one meal a day. Others will choose a more drastic plan and decrease their window to only one meal a day.
Be mindful of what you eat
Added sugars, processed foods, and a carb-heavy diet can lead to unnecessary weight gain. Work to cut back on sugary and processed foods from your daily meals. Looking at the labels of even products that claim to be healthy — you'll be surprised at the contents! But remember, it’s OK to treat yourself to something delicious every now and then.
Get a good night’s rest
Yes, even your sleep can impact your health and weight. When you’re not getting enough sleep, you might turn to sugary drinks to keep you awake. Your body will also conserve your energy to keep you awake, meaning it will hang onto fat. Create a nighttime regimen that will help you wind down and go to bed at an appropriate time.
Although diet, exercise and sleep habits may big lifestyle changes for some, the long lasting health benefits are worth all the hard work that may go into making these changes possible.
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