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Weight Loss Pills: Are they safe and effective? 

Weight Loss Pills - Safety and Effectiveness:

weight lossThe first weight loss pill approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of obesity, was Xenical in 1999. Xenical works by reducing the body’s ability to absorb dietary fat by an estimated one-third. Most weight loss pills have been approved by the FDA for short-term use, which usually means for a period of time of several weeks to several months.

Some of the more popular weight loss pills include Meridia, Adipex, Bontril, Xenical, Sanorex, Tenuate and Redux and Pondimin which have both been withdrawn from the market, due to safety issues. While most side-effects of weight loss pills for obesity are usually mild, serious complications have been reported.

Weight loss pills that are currently available to treat obesity, usually lead to modestly effective weight losses (between 5-22 pounds above that expected from non-drug treatments). Some people lose more weight than others. Weight loss pills may have the benefit of reducing risk factors associated with obesity such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

 

Weight reduction usually occurs within the first six months of treatment with weight loss pills. Studies have shown that if you do not lose at least four pounds over the first four weeks on a particular medication, it may be unlikely to help you to achieve significant weight loss. Several antidepressant medications have also been found to assist with weight loss. However, the loss of weight in these circumstances is considered be an “off-label” use, rather than what they have been specifically approved for by the FDA. Antidepressant medications have been found to assist patients in modest amounts of weight loss for up to six months.

Weight loss pills are believed to promote weight loss by decreasing your appetite and increasing the feeling of being full. They seem to decrease the appetite by increasing the neurotransmitter serotonin or catecholamine, which are two brain chemicals which are known to affect mood and appetite.

Weight Loss Pills - Long term Use:

Weight loss pills are usually recommended for short-term use. There are few studies lasting more than two years, which have evaluated their safety or effectiveness. Xenical and Meridia are the only weight loss pills which have been approved for “longer-term” use in significantly obese individuals, although their safety and effectiveness also, has not been established for use beyond one year.

Final comments on weight loss pills:

Weight loss pills may help you reduce a number of health risks in the short-term. Studies examining the effects of weight loss medications on obesity, have found that some of these medications will lower your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and triglycerides (fats) and decrease insulin resistance (the body’s inability to use blood sugar) for the short-term, however, studies are needed to determine their overall effect on health over the long term. There will probably never be a replacement for the “old fashioned model” of reduced caloric intake, nutritional education, and increased physical activity to maintain long-term weight loss.

By Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate  

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