With more than half of the adult population in the United States classified as overweight, you might be wondering who needs to gain weight. Actually, a number of individuals have a keen interest in weight gain. A wrestler may want to gain weight to qualify for a desired weight class, and some body builders seek extra weight in the form of lean muscle. Poor health can also leave individuals underweight. Patients suffering from a number of health conditions, including cystic fibrosis and cancer, commonly need to gain weight.
Over-the-counter weight gain pills do not help you gain fat or muscle overnight, if at all, warns information provided by the TeensHealth website. Weight gain pills at best are a waste of money and at worst are harmful to your health, due to lack of FDA regulation. Instead of turning to pills, TeensHealth recommends talking with your health professional about dietary modification and other options.
Manufacturers sell beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, commonly referred to as HMB, as an over-the-counter weight gain pill. Manufacturers tout HMB as a way to gain lean muscle. Body builders, cancer patients and those suffering from AIDS wasting take this supplement, but clinical evidence to support its efficacy has been inconclusive, according to information from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Athletes and other individuals use creatine for weight gain. Creatine is one of 22 amino acids---the building blocks of protein---found naturally in the human body, as well as in meat and fish. Competitive athletes and body builders take creatine pills or powder to increase weight by gaining lean muscle mass. Although the scientific evidence to support these claims is weak, Americans spend approximately $14 million annually on creatine supplements, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Your underweight teen may have a nutrient deficiency that can be corrected by consuming a standard over-the-counter multivitamin pill with iron, explains the Center for Young Women's Health at Children's Hospital Boston. The high metabolism of teenagers and the nutritional requirements during growth spurts, combined with exercising a lot, can keep your teen from gaining weight. Contact a health professional for the best options to treat an underweight teen.
The Anabolic Steroid Control Act
Signed into law in October 2004, the Anabolic Steroid Control Act reclassifies a number of steroids once available over-the-counter as controlled substances. Ads for these steroids claimed to promote weight gain through increased muscle mass. However, steroids---now only available by prescription---cause significant side effects, including testicle shrinkage in men, increased risk of breast cancer in women and stunted growth in children.