5 Dangerous Diet Drugs to Avoid—Plus 1 Weight Loss Method That Works

July 2, 2015

With mass media constantly shouting that ‘thin is in’ and the nation’s obesity level at a record high (a whopping 34 percent, according to the CDC), it’s no surprise that dieting is practically a national pastime.

Getting to a healthy weight is one thing, but doing it with chemicals is another thing altogether. Magazines and late-night television are full of ads promising miracle pills that will help you shed pounds with minimal effort. But before you turn to one of these bottles of hope, take a look at some of the side effects—these drugs are a losing game.

1. Laxatives

The basic premise behind using laxatives to lose weight is simple: Going to the bathroom more often makes you shed a significant amount of water weight. One study found that nearly 47 percent of women had tried this weight loss method at one point.

The problem with this idea? Abuse of laxatives can cause severe dehydration, deplete your body of vitamins and minerals, and permanently damage your intestinal tract.

2. Japanese Rapid Weight Loss Pill

The Food and Drug Administration has actually come out against these particular pills because of one of their key ingredients: the chemical phenolphthalein, which may mutate DNA.

3. Fen-Phen

This anti-obesity drug was heavily marketed in the 1990s until researchers realized it could lead to serious heart valve problems.

4. Clenbuterol

This drug is approved to treat asthma in horses, not humans. Some of clenbuterol’s side effects—fat loss and muscle building—made it popular in bodybuilding circles, though others—anxiety, irregular heartbeat, and the jitters—aren’t so great.

5. Nicotine

Nicotine impairs your sense of smell, dilutes your ability to taste food, and overall reduces your appetite.

Of course, there are several hundred reasons why this isn’t an effective weight loss solution. You’ve probably heard the litany of negative effects of smoking already—but in case you need a reminder, smoking can cause a multitude of cancers, lung disease, heart disease, stomach problems, and more.

So what really works? No one wants to hear it, but the best method requires some work:  a healthy, balanced diet and plenty of exercise.

If that approach doesn’t work for you, consult a doctor. If you want to try a supplement to augment your healthy eating and workout routine, opt for one without all the added chemicals, artificial ingredients, and unnatural junk.

Illustration by Katherine Prendergast

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.


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