Nonprescription products for weight loss

Many nonprescription products for weight loss are available at drugstores and supermarkets and over the Internet. Many of these have never been proven effective, and those that are effective often come with warnings. For example, many diet pills promote water loss from the body and may lead to dehydration or loss of essential minerals.

Nonprescription appetite suppressants often work by making you less hungry.

  • Do not use these nonprescription medicines if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, thyroid problems, glaucoma, or depression.
  • Appetite suppressants are only intended for use for a short time (8 to 12 weeks). However, control of obesity is a lifelong activity. It is costly and possibly dangerous to depend on the use of these medicines to control your weight for long periods of time. If you are going to use these drugs to help you lose weight, be sure you also make healthy changes to your diet and get regular exercise.

Some people use water-loss pills (diuretics, such as Aqua-Ban) to lose weight. However, these pills only get rid of water and do not reduce the amount of fat in your body. Using water-loss pills this way is not recommended and can be dangerous.

FDA bans ephedra

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the sale of ephedra because of concerns about safety. The product has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, and some deaths.

Ephedra and ephedrine—the active ingredient in ephedra—decrease appetite by increasing metabolic rate.

Last Updated: April 16, 2009

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