Are Weight Loss Pills Addictive?

Copyright 2010

Weight Loss Pills can seem an easy dieting solution, but beware.The history of weight loss pills dates back to the 1930s, when two physicians at Stanford University discovered that the industrial compound dinitrophenol could speed up metabolism in humans.

Ever since then, weight loss pills have been a huge part of the diet industry: they seem to present a nearly effortless solution to weight loss. Even at their often expensive prices, wouldn’t it be worth the money if you could just take a few pills to lose weight instead of having to research healthy diets, avoid the temptation of junk food, and spend all that time on the treadmill?

Weight loss pills are an extremely seductive solution to the problem of obesity, but they have a very mixed record.

Some have been effective, some have not, and some have actually caused death – a prominent example being the fenfluramine and phentermine (fen-phen) combination that rose to fame in the 1990s. While the efficacy of weight loss pills has been in question since they were first introduced, an even darker threat looms behind the promise of easy weight loss: the possibility of addiction.

Weight loss pills employ a variety of chemicals and compounds that work in a variety of different ways. Some simply suppress the appetite while others speed up metabolism. Still others prevent the absorption of dietary fat by the digestive tract.

While some of the substances used may be dangerous (or have the potential for dangerous side affects) on their own or in combination with others, some of them also have known addictive qualities, and these are the pills that are especially dangerous. Pills that contain amphetamines, tranquilizers, stimulants such as ephedra and caffeine, or phenylpropranolamine can be addictive, especially if they are abused.

Dieters can also become psychologically addicted to pills by reasoning that if one or two doses helps them lose weight, then three or four would be an even bigger help.

Many dieters begin using weight loss pills responsibly but ultimately ingest more than the recommended dosage, either because they don’t seem to be effective or because they’re very effective. The psychological reward that comes with losing weight can push a dieter to feel that he or she “needs” the pills to lose weight and feel good.

Weight loss pills can pose an additional risk to dieters because many non-prescription pills are considered “supplements” and thus are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration until it has time to study them. Non-regulated weight loss pills pose an especially high risk because it’s impossible for the average dieter to tell exactly what’s in them. They may contain substances that have previously been deemed harmful by the FDA, but are allowed on the market until a judgment can be made that they’re unfit for consumers.Choosing to diet safely and sensibly is the greatest weight loss success!

The FDA maintains a list on its website of the supplements that it has deemed unsafe. It states that these supplements may contain undeclared ingredients that are harmful to dieters or even prescription drugs in doses far higher than is recommended.

There is quite a bit of bad press surrounding weight loss pills, and for good reason: non-prescription pills may contain harmful substances; and even prescription pills may or may not be effective. If a dieter chooses to use such supplements, he or she should search for those that are FDA-approved. The dieter should also be careful to follow dosing instructions carefully, and to seek help if he or she feels symptoms of addiction or withdrawal. At any rate, weight loss pills are no substitute for a sensible diet and exercise plan when it comes to losing weight.

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