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Reasons Why People Use Diet Pills

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Reasons Why People Use Diet Pills
woman sitting in gym class with her hood up appearing self conscious Photo Credit: Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images

A multitude of diet pills line grocery store, pharmacy and convenience store shelves. Your doctor may suggest prescription diet pills if conventional weight-loss methods, such as dietary changes and exercise, fail to suffice, or if you hold high risk for obesity-related health problems. You may also turn to diet pills as a seemingly "simple" way to manage your weight. Since diet pills are not ideal for everyone and pose risks, seek guidance and approval from your doctor prior to use.

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Jump-start Fat Loss

If you carry excess body weight, the thought of meeting your long-term goals may seem daunting. You may use diet pills to "jump-start" the process. Prescription diet pills, such as orlistat, keep fat from being absorbed and digested in your body, according to, and may effectively stimulate weight loss. These effects tend to dwindle over time, however. Diet pills that block fat absorption and digestion are among the numerous medications used to help treat obesity and are available through prescription only. When used appropriately, over-the-counter diet pills may also stimulate weight loss by boosting your energy and/or motivating you to make healthy dietary changes.

Reduce Appetite

Since weight loss requires a caloric deficit -- in other words, consuming fewer calories than you burn through physical activity -- and eating fewer calories than you're accustomed to eating, appetite control is important. Over-the-counter diet pill ingredients, such as chromium, country mallow, green tea extract and hoodia, are marketed as appetite suppressants, according to Since dietary supplements are not upheld to the same safety and effectiveness standards as prescription medications, however, they may or may not help reduce your appetite. In addition, many pose dangerous risks.

Exercise Alternative

You may also use diet pills as a temporary or long-term alternative to exercise. According to a research review published in the November 1, 2004 "American Family Physician," diet pills are particularly popular among young, obese women. Since obesity often makes physical activity difficult or potentially harmful, according to Harvard medical specialist and lead author of the report, Dr. Robert Saper, diet pill use among obese individuals is unsurprising. If diet pills help you reduce your caloric intake appropriately, they may help you lose weight through diet alone until you're capable of increased physical activity. Since exercise is important for weight loss maintenance and overall health, diet pills should not replace physical activity unless your doctor indicates otherwise.

Addiction and Eating Disorders

Low self-esteem, poor body image, depression and other psychological factors increase your risk for developing harmful dietary behaviors. Diet pills are drugs, according to Phil McGraw, psychologist and author of "Self Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out." Use of diet pills may lead to dependency and a slew of dangerous side effects. A correlation also stands between eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, and diet pill abuse. Diet pills are not intended for normal-weight or underweight individuals, nor are they appropriate for people with a history of psychological disorders. Diet pills, whether purchased over the counter or prescribed, may also interact with antidepressants and other medications.

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