The prevalence of obesity globally, and especially in the United States, is astounding, evidently increasing year-over-year. Illustrated by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.9 billion adults globally are overweight or obese. According to the Centre for Disease and Control (CDC), the percentage of the population who are obese in the United States? 42% and growing.
In contrast, however, the obsession with weight loss and the desire to lose it also seems to be at an all-time high, with more and more individuals investing in weight loss programs, splurging on fat loss supplements, and falling for the latest weight-loss crazes. It’s no surprise, then, that one of, if not the most popular New Year’s resolutions year after year is the goal to lose weight.
There’s no question that there’s an obesity epidemic on our hands, however, with so many solutions available at our discretion, why aren’t they being taken advantage of?
Is it because of the ineffectiveness of the solutions available? Is it due to the lack of research surrounding obesity and weight loss? Or is it because of a lack of education and attention given to the matter?
There’s no doubt that some solutions are more effective than others, however, that is certainly not the problem. Research on the topic of weight loss and the human body is extensive, so we know exactly what is required to lose weight.
Education and attention, however, may be the culprit, notwithstanding the likelihood of dismay and disinterest on behalf of those who are overweight or obese to become educated; obesity isn’t the only epidemic on our hands, as laziness is a large part of the problem.
With that said, what follows will be a discussion surrounding weight loss and how to accomplish it. More specifically, however, we’ll be diving deep into the world of weight loss pills, how they work, and why some are effective and others are not. To finish, we’ll lay out a bottom-line overview of the most optimal approach to weight loss.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
What are Weight Loss Pills?
Weight loss pills come in many forms and facets, some more effective than others. In short, however, they are, as the name suggests, pills that aid in the process of weight loss. This is typically accomplished via compounds that suppress appetite, increase internal body temperature (i.e. thermogenesis), or boost metabolism so that the body can burn more calories.
Fat Burner Supplements
Dietary supplements are one type of “weight loss pill” in discussion. Because dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are largely less efficacious, less safe, and less effective, generally speaking, than prescription medication.
Supplement companies across the board can make claims that aren’t necessarily backed by proof of research or science. Additionally, they’re also able to include ingredients that may be inaccurately linked to weight loss and/or formulated at doses less effective, simply to save money and increase profits.
For these reasons, it’s difficult to conclusively suggest whether or not fat burner supplements are “effective”. It’s important to note, however, that some supplement brands are much more reliable than others.
If you decide to implement a dietary fat loss supplement into your weight loss plan, be sure to do your research before purchasing, understanding that no claim is officially backed by science.
Weight Loss Prescription Drugs
Weight loss prescription drugs, however, are not only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but they are only given under the recommendation and guidance of your primary care physician. This, for obvious reasons, illustrates the efficacy, safety, and effectiveness of this type of weight loss pill in comparison to a standard weight-loss dietary supplement.
While it’s understood that weight loss pills are not and should not be considered or treated as a “magic pill” but instead a small addition to a greater multifaceted strategy, according to the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, they may be a good fit for you if your BMI is greater than 30, you have weight-related health conditions, or if your weight-loss progress has reached a plateau.
The following are weight loss prescription drugs that have been approved by the FDA for short-term and/or long-term use:
The information in this section is not medical advice. Only in consultation with your doctor should you consider implementing weight loss prescription medication to your weight loss regimen.
How do Weight Loss Pills Work
Broadly speaking, weight loss pills, whether that be dietary supplements or prescription medication, work through the ingredients and doses formulated. Depending on the type of weight loss pill in consideration, it may work through several bodily mechanisms.
Typically, however, weight loss pills work by suppressing appetite, increasing satiety, boosting metabolism so that more calories can be burned, and/or by interfering with fat absorption.
What weight loss pills DON’T do is directly target and burn fat without the effort of those taking them. In other words, it’s not a “magic pill”. In fact, taking such a product improperly (i.e. consuming it like candy without the implementation of other weight loss mechanisms) can result in serious side effects and bodily damage.
That’s why it’s imperative not only to do your research but to collaborate with a professional, ideally a doctor, before taking it.
The Effectiveness of Weight Loss Pills
Weight loss pills that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been shown through research to elicit a positive response compared to the placebo group. In fact, studies thus far have suggested that combining efficacious weight loss pills with lifestyle changes is more effective than lifestyle changes alone.
This is an extremely positive outcome to see regarding the effectiveness of weight loss pills.
Of course, discussing the effectiveness of weight loss pills can’t occur without the mention of the necessity for implementing other weight loss protocols in combination. As outlined previously, this includes exercise, nutrition, hydration, sleep, and other alternative strategies shown to help with weight loss and fat loss.
In any case, while the effectiveness of weight loss pills is promising, more research needs to be done on the matter before conclusively suggesting their efficacy for the broader population.
To summarize, the following are several of the potential benefits of weight loss pills:
- Increased metabolism
- Lowered blood sugar and blood pressure
- Improved weight loss and fat loss
- Joint Pain Relief
- Improved Sleep
- Boosted Mood
- Increased Focus and Energy
- Reduced Risk of Co-morbidities
Of course, you shouldn’t expect drastic or immediate results when taking weight loss pills. In addition, while the benefits listed above are certainly apparent, they’re not guaranteed.
The Bottom Line
While it’s universally agreed upon that weight loss requires a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach that includes exercise, nutrition, hydration, sleep, and even behavioural therapies, dietary supplementation under the right circumstances and weight loss medication under the right guidance can be a welcomed addition that may help with weight loss results.
Following the disclaimers outlined throughout this article, it’s important to beware of dietary supplements that claim extraordinary results. Additionally, before considering prescription medication, be sure to first do all that’s in your power to progress naturally before consulting with a doctor regarding its use. Lastly, understand that even the most efficacious weight loss pills don’t come without potential side effects.
There is no magic pill for weight loss, however, there are alternatives that may help you along the process. If you’re still unsure which course of action to take regarding weight loss pills, consult with your primary care doctor to learn more about its implementation, ensuring safety and efficacy is of top priority.
Dr Martin receives his MD from University of Iowa. His expertise includes microbiology, anatomy and clinical psychology. He also dedicates himself to continuous learning in different fields.