Diet Pills: Can I Get Hooked?

Article Contributed by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

-Miracle_Cure!-_Health_Fraud_Scams_(8528312890)With the diet industry being a billion dollar business, it comes as no surprise that diet pills are something that continues to be utilized by countless individuals across the nation. What exactly are diet pills, and what is it about these products that entice users to continue buying and using them?

Diet pills, or over-the-counter weight loss pills, are supplements that are available for purchase at local drugstores, health food stores, or supermarkets without a prescription from a medical physician. Diet pills are not subject to the strict regulations that prescription medications are bound to; therefore, diet pills and other weight-loss aids can be marketed with limited proof of effectiveness or safety.

The Quick Fix: Or Is It?

These types of products are often portrayed as offering “quick fixes” to the consumer, being marketed as something that can miraculously and effortlessly achieve weight loss.

Diet pills are typically marketed to achieve weight loss by:

  • Increasing the number of calories burned throughout a day
  • Decreasing appetite
  • Blocking absorption of dietary fat and/or calories
  • Reducing overall body fat, or
  • Increasing metabolism

How Diet Pills Are a Marketing Ploy

Individuals who are desperate to find a quick resolution to weight issues are enticed by the allure of diet pills and the many promises they claim to fulfill. “Melt away your fat”, or “Eat anything you want and still lose weight!” are examples of slogans that are often used to market diet pills and weight loss products to consumers.

How effective are these marketing ploys? Research has demonstrated that consumers in the United States have spent more than 300 million dollars on the category of weight-loss dietary supplements, shakes, and bars, which have all been proven ineffective [1]. It has also been found that consumers are more willing to purchase products such as diet pills, rather than utilize a form of treatment for weight loss that has been proven and evaluated for safety [1].

The Allure of Weight-Loss Products

vegetables-353926_640The allure of weight-loss products is what draws people to these substances in the first place. What factors keep consumers locked into using these products?
While weight-loss products and pills are not subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are standards that must be followed in terms of how dietary supplements are marketed.

Although a dietary supplement cannot be legally used to, or claim to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent a disease, there is a struggle to maintain control over false information that is repeatedly distributed to consumers[1]. The false advertisement of products, such as diet pills, has been exasperated by the widespread use of the Internet, which is commonly used by a majority of Americans who are seeking information on health and wellness.

The Appeal of a Quick Fix

Perhaps consumers have become addicted to the appealing messages that are branded with weight loss products and diet pills, being tempted by the promise of finding a quick fix rather than a long-term solution. If you are considering the use of over-the-counter weight-loss pills, it is crucial that you research each product thoroughly and involve your doctor or pharmacist.

Take the time to analyze what is being offered in each particular product you are considering and determine what research shows about its safety and effectiveness. Your physician can also help you verify if any over-the-counter products will interact with prescription medications you are currently taking, as weight-loss pills often contain multiple ingredients, such as herbs and botanicals.

No Shortcuts to Healthy, Sustainable Weight Loss

There are no short-cuts to establishing lifestyle changes that will ultimately keep you healthy for the long-term. While it is enticing to consume a product that may offer some benefits in terms of weight loss, a miracle solution for obesity has not yet been formulated in anything that is sold over-the-counter.

If you are concerned about your health, be sure to speak with your physician or health care provider about ways you can holistically improve your well-being without the risk of consuming diet pills.

[1]: “Magic Pills: The Marketing of Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss”