Diet pills: Danger alert for those who are ardent to lose weight

Dr. Sunil Havannavar, Consultant – Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital Sarjapur Road

Diet pills are basically weight reducing drugs aimed at reducing excessive body weight. The proven ways to lose weight are by eating healthy food, cutting calories, and being physically active. But making these lifestyle changes isn’t easy, so many people opt for taking a dietary supplement that’s promoted for weight loss. It’s very important to know about the safety and effectiveness of many ingredients that are commonly used in weight-loss dietary supplements or diet pills.

Theses diet pills are aimed to help you to lose weight by blocking the absorption of fat or carbohydrates, curbing your appetite, or speeding up your metabolism. Many of these pills are expensive, some can interact or interfere with other medications that you are currently taking, and a few might be harmful. So even before thinking about taking a dietary supplement to lose weight, it’s important to discuss with your physician or health care provider, especially important if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or other medical conditions.

Columbia Asia Hospital LogoThe currently available studies on these pills involved only small numbers of people taking the supplement just for few weeks or months and most of them were not suffering from any co – morbid illnesses. To know whether a weight-loss supplement can really help people lose weight safely and keep it off, larger groups of people need to be studied for a longer time.

Weight-loss supplements, like all dietary supplements, can have harmful side effects and might interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications. Almost all weight-loss supplements have several ingredients that have not been tested in combination with one another, and their combined effects are unknown.  For example, caffeine’s effect may be stronger if you take it with other stimulants (such as bitter orange), and chitosan (polysaccharide – used to limit the fat absorption) might increase the blood-thinning effects of warfarin (a commonly used anticoagulant) to dangerous levels.

In conclusion, the best way to lose weight is to follow a healthy eating plan, reduce calories, and exercise regularly. As a bonus, lifestyle changes that help you lose weight might also improve your mood and energy level and lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.  No diet pill should be started without the opinion of your health care provider.

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