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The diet industry is big business. In the United States alone, billions of dollars are spent each year on books and diet supplements. Diet pills account for a large percentage of the sales in the diet industry.

Why do people purchase diet pills? Over sixty four percent of the American population is either overweight or obese. This is a very large number and it is alarming. Many of these people have tried diets and have been unsuccessful at them. Therefore, they use diet pills as a way to help them maintain their diets and lose weight.

Diet pills are drugs taken to suppress the appetite, make you feel full quicker or increase the metabolism to burn fat. There are both prescription medications as well as over the counter medications. Prescription diet pills are most commonly prescribed in cases of an obese patient as opposed to someone who just wants to lose a few extra pounds. The vast majority of people who purchase the over the counter medications do so for cosmetic reasons as opposed to health reasons.


The 1960’s and 1970’s were the first decades to really bring diet pills into popularity. The first diet pills were designed to speed up the metabolism and were actually derivatives of amphetamines or speed. The person who took this would often feel edgy and become more active just as one would on the street drug. It also suppressed the appetite so there was a combination of increased activity and reduction in caloric intake. However, the drugs were addictive just as the illegal speed is. Doctors subsequently stopped prescribing the medication for weight loss.

In 1973, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug fenfluramine commonly known as Pondimin. In 1993 Redux was approved and Phentermine was approved in 1997. Soon after these approvals physicians started prescribing a combination of fenfluramine and Phentermine. The combination of the drug was called fen-phen for the two drug combination.

More than eighteen million prescriptions for fen-phen were written in 1996 alone. The popularity of the drug was high and the success rate was also high. People were thrilled at this new drug and went to their doctors in droves to get it prescribed. Soon after, there were many cases of heart valve disease that cropped up. The origins of this were traced to the fen-phen drug. The food and Drug Administration called for a voluntary withdrawal of the drug. The producers of fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine withdrew these diet pills from the market. Phentermine alone was not named in the withdrawal request but fen-phen would no longer be prescribed.

Most recently, the drug ephedra has been scrutinized for its health issues. Ephedra is an herb that has been used for centuries. However it was linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The Food and Drug Administration issued a ban on the drug in 2004. This was a highly controversial move because the ban happened very quickly and with only a small number of cited cases. In late 2005 after a court battle, this ban was lifted. Ephedra is now once again available but the media attention it garnered has led many to be wary of any diet pill that contains it. Recent studies have shown that ephedrine had toxic effects with both short and long term use. Some people have reported abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) as a result of taking this substance. Further study of ephedrine’s potential risks continues.

Phentermine is the most popular prescription diet drug on the market today. Millions of Americans use it to help suppress their appetites. It also shows a high rate of success which bolsters its popularity. Orlistat (Xenical) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1999 and it inhibits the absorption of fat into the body. Sibutramine (Meridia) acts on the brain through norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine reuptake inhibition. This drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2001.

Over the past forty years, more over the counter diet pills have made their way on to shelves in supermarkets, health food stores and pharmacies. These diet pills are heavily marketed to consumers and often have promising advertising campaigns that give the person who is trying to lose weight hope that they will have a quick fix solution to their weight problem. Herbal diet pills are also very popular and tout the belief that if it is natural, it must be good for you.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates how these products can be advertised as well as how they should be used. However, many of the diet pills contain potentially harmful substances that can do severe damage to the body over time. It also may cause undesirable side effects such as nervousness, rapid breathing and mood swings.

Why People Use Them

Whether prescription or over the counter, all diet pills should be taken with caution. Although you do not need a prescription for over the counter medications, it is not advisable to take any diet pill without the advice of a physician. If you have existing health conditions, you may complicate the matter by choosing a diet pill that will react badly with your existing condition. This holds true whether it is an herbal diet pill or not.

There are many reasons why people use diet pills. In today’s society over half the population is overweight or obese yet all media shows skinny, beautiful people. There is a general climate that if you are not one of the beautiful people, then you are simply not good enough. The diet industry feeds on this and shows before and after images to give dieters hope that maybe someday soon they too will be able to look like that. But you have to peer closely at the fine print that always and inevitably states, “results not typical”.

Because the diet industry is aware of the deep seeded desire for millions of people to lose weight, they have preyed on this. While some diet medications do what they say they will do, there are also many diet pills that are complete scams. Diet pills that promise things such as losing weight without the need to diet or exercise are typically scams. Lose weight while you sleep is another popular scam. Burn fat without diet or exercise that encourages you to eat just about anything and claims you will still burn fat is another type of diet pill scam. There is no way to lose weight without changing eating habits, reducing the amount of calories that are ingested and participating in a regular exercise program. Diet pills and diet supplements can assist but without a change in lifestyle you will not get far. Unfortunately for everyone who wants to lose weight, there is no magic pill.

Diet pills can assist a person in attaining their weight loss goals by giving an extra boost to their diet and exercise plan. Especially in the beginning stages of a diet, it is important for the person who is trying to lose weight to see progress. This will motivate them to continue on the diet and allow them to more easily change their habits. Once they do they will have made lifestyle changes that are easier to keep up. They will be able to reach their weight loss goals.

Phentermine is the most popular prescription diet aid. It is intended for obese people and it is only meant to be used for a short period of time. This is to give the person on the diet encouragement by easing the first few weeks of the diet. The dieter will be able to see they have made progress and it will motivate them to continue.

Dangers of Diet Pills

All diet pills have potential side effects and possible dangers. It is important to know what these are before embarking on a diet regimen that includes the use of diet pills whether prescription or over the counter. One of the dangers of diet pills is that is blocks the absorption of fats and may cause gastrointestinal side effects such as increased defecation, fecal incontinence, abdominal pain, nausea, infectious diarrhea, and rectal pain.

Diet pills can also cause a deficiency in vitamins A, D, E, K, and Beta-carotenes. Often patients will also take a vitamin supplement or a multivitamin to compensate for this deficiency. You need to be careful with this as well because taking multiple drugs may interact adversely with one another and there may be issues associated with overdosing on vitamins.

Read More: Diet Pills And Weight Loss Facts

Diet pills that have particular ingredients may substantially increase blood pressure. Patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke should avoid diet pills unless under the strict supervision of a physician. Some diet pills can also be addictive. No diet pill is designed to be taken for extended periods of time so if it is habit forming there is more of a risk that a patient will continue its use long after its practical need is over. Other diet pill side effects include headache, back pain, abdominal pain, hypertension, palpitation, anorexia, constipation, nausea, thirst, joint disorder, insomnia, dizziness, anxiety, depression, rash, acne, and many more. As you can see, there are quite a few potential dangers in using diet pills.

People choose to take diet pills primarily to lose weight and look good. Sometimes they have been previously unsuccessful with traditional diets and just need a little extra push. Diet pills can help give a patient that little added help they need to get them on their way to healthy lifestyle changes. Diet pills should never be used without the consultation of a physician because many side effects can occur. You should always check with your physician to ensure you do not have any existing conditions that may adversely affect your use of the pills. Also, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and dangers associated with taking diet pills so you are well informed and make correct choices.