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Are Diet Pills Bad for You?

Are diet pills bad for you?
- Jackie*

Dietary supplements and weight-loss remedies that advertise a quick fix usually don't work.

Most over-the-counter weight loss pills and supplements aren't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These pills and supplements may claim you can shed pounds without diet or exercise, but their claims often aren't backed up by science.

OTC weight loss pills and supplements can come with side effects. Some are minor but unpleasant (like bloating and diarrhea). Other side effects, like heart problems, can be serious.

The FDA has approved prescription weight loss pills, but only for obese adults. A doctor may prescribe these pills to adults who have medical problems related to obesity, like diabetes or high blood pressure. These pills can have serious side effects and are not recommended for teens.

If you think you're overweight, talk to your doctor about safe and effective ways to lose weight. The best way to attack a weight problem is through changes like choosing healthy foods, eating smaller portions, and starting an exercise routine.

When it comes to diet pills and supplements, the old saying makes sense: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.