Editorial: Weight loss pills are not worth the cost or risk.

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Using pills or supplements for weight loss does not result in lasting weight loss and they are a huge risk to your health.

Pills: Ooo Petty Colors
Pills: Ooo Petty Colors

Every dieter is looking for a quick way to get a leg up on obesity. With today’s sedentary lifestyles, it is near impossible to accomplish meaningful weight loss and maintain it. Being overweight is a major risk for multiple diseases and many people are desperate to find a means to find weight loss success. The question really is whether weight loss pills and supplements will help you find success.

Prescription weight-loss drugs can cause weight loss. Most of the modern drugs work by suppressing appetite or increasing metabolic rate. Most are either sympathomimetic drugs or amphetamine-like drugs. They can increase your heart rate and increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, or stroke. They are not benign medications but they can result in short term weight loss.

There are also ‘supplements’ taken for weight loss. None of which undergo rigorous testing for efficacy and safety and all have potentially severe side effects to include possible death. Whether they really work is unclear. There are a few that have some research to back them up, but most are extremely suspect. The research that does exist was done on very small groups of people or on mice. Even more important, the cost and benefit make the risk not worth taking. Many of the supplements have been linked to liver failure and death, so the vanity of a few pounds of weight loss is just not worth it.

Three supplements that I have taken are green tea extract, cinnamon, and capsaicin. I found them to be effective in me but the effect was much smaller than you would expect for the cost. Besides some hot flashes, I had no side effects. I no longer take them. Rather, I eat foods or drink drinks that contain them instead. Eating the unprocessed whole foods, intermittent fasting, and physical activity are healthier ways to try and lose weight. 

Losing weight by supplements is also setting you up for failure. You need to maintain the loss and that requires reverting to a healthier lifestyle that you can maintain. If you lose weight with a pill or supplement, you do not learn how to keep it off. You can’t keep taking the pills and you need to find a method you can continue once the weight comes off.

The bottom line: Quick fixes are not the answer. You would be better off saving your money and eating healthier. The weight loss and maintenance will come east if you can establish a healthy lifestyle and maintain it. Current scientific evidence shows the best strategy is to adopt a more healthy and holistic approach that involves a change in lifestyle and lasts for a longer time.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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