Diet Pills: 2 Things You Need to Know

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HonorHealth - Diet Pills: 2 Things You Need to Know

Regardless of your personality type, when you want to lose weight, you want it to happen quickly. Unfortunately, it usually takes consistent commitment and twice as much time as we'd like to drop even a few pounds. Ever find yourself wondering if modern "medicine" can give your metabolism a jumpstart?

From prescription weight loss products to the plethora of over-the-counter options, including pills and products being peddled by celebrities and even Dr. Oz himself, surely something out there can help, right?

Heather O'Toole, MD, a primary care physician with HonorHealth Medical Group Seventh Street specializes in weight loss counseling and support and is weighing in on what pill or pills might help you drop a few pounds.

It turns out that Dr. O'Toole rarely prescribes medication for weight loss. She prefers the tried and true practices of healthy eating and exercise. Her reasons for avoiding weight loss supplements are pretty solid. Here they are:

1. Many drugs haven't yet proven their worth.

For about 13 years, no new weight loss medications were introduced to the market. The Food and Drug Administration had pulled a variety of medications off the market following a string of health and safety issues, ranging from liver disease to heart valve defects. About two years ago, the FDA gave the green light for three new weight loss medications following clinical trials: QSymia, Belviq and Contrave.

Despite having clearance from the FDA, Dr. O'Toole remains cautious.

Since the drugs were only tested over a two-year period, she says the long-term implications remain unknown. Rather than jump right in and start prescribing the pills to patients, she's opting to wait and see if additional side effects or other findings come to light with a larger patient pool. Her general rule of thumb is to wait until a drug has been on the market for many years and has been used by thousands of patients. If, at that point, it's still deemed safe and effective, then she'll consider writing a prescription with an accompanying focus on diet and exercise counseling.

2. The cost of diet pills doesn't measure up the results.

Above and beyond health and safety concerns, Dr. O'Toole also shies away from weight loss medications because of their cost and less-than-stellar results.

Trials of the three drugs added to the market in 2014, report modest weight loss, averaging five percent to 10 percent over a 12-month period. Stack that against a price tag of more than $200 per month (more than $2,000 per year), and the cost per pound dropped is quite staggering. Furthermore, weight loss medications may not be appropriate for long-term use.

Of course, there's an abundant supply of over-the-counter weight loss supplements you could turn to, but according to Dr. O'Toole, they're a gamble, offering no guarantees on their safety, efficacy or even that what you pay for is truly what you get.

With two-thirds of Americans being overweight or obese, it's no surprise that the weight loss supplement industry is a lucrative one. Not being regulated by the FDA means safety standards, testing and authenticity claims for these supplements leave much to be desired. As Dr. O'Toole says, just because a product is sold without a prescription doesn't automatically mean it's safe. Many a weight loss product has been pulled off the market for that very reason.

So, if you're trying to lose a few pounds (and really, who among us isn't?) think back to that age-old advice, the stuff you've probably been hearing most of your life: Eat healthy, real foods, avoid sugar and processed foods, and exercise regularly. That truly is the best recipe for long-term, sustainable and affordable weight loss, and it works!