The Dangers of Diet Pills

In America there seems to be a pill for just about every ailment. But an area that’s lacking effective medicine, is the area of obesity and weight loss. Despite best efforts by drug companies and surgeons, obesity simply cannot be cured by pills, shots or even surgery. And, that’s not for a lack of trying by either!

We have seen prescription medications, supplements and shots come and go in search of a viable solution to drop unwanted pounds. Drugs have not effectively answered the problem, despite billions of dollars spent in research. Unfortunately, these medications have had at least one, if not many, dangerous and sometimes deadly side effects.

The most common risks associated with weight-loss products tend to be issues with the heart and blood pressure. Many of the drugs in this category put added stress on the heart, which can sometimes result in serious events such as heart attack, stroke or even death. Here are some of the medicines that have come and gone throughout the last couple decades.


Ephedra, an evergreen plant found in Central Asia and Mongolia, contains the active compound known as ephedrine. Ephedrine is a powerful stimulant of the central nervous. Ephedra, in recent years, became popular as a dietary supplement for weight loss, increased energy and athletic performance. The USDA announced a ban on supplements containing ephedra in 2003, marking it the first supplement to be banned. This ban came after more than 16,000 reports showing that ephedra could be dangerous and linking it to roughly 155 deaths.


Fen-Phen, one of the more popular weight loss drugs, was made of both fenfluramine and phentermine. Fenfluramine is a drug that causes the body to release more serotonin, while phentermine is a stimulant. The drug was shown to be effective for weight loss, but later studies revealed pulmonary hypertension and heart-valve abnormalities, which may have been caused by excessive serotonin. It also caused heart-valve problems that required heart surgery, as well as primary pulmonary hypertension, a serious disease with no cure.


Sibutramine is a weight-loss drug that was sold under the brand name Meridia. In 2003, studies noting adverse effects from the drug, including significant increases in blood pressure, pulse rate and heart palpitations were added to the petition. In 2010 Sibutramine was taken off the market because of safety concerns and public pressure. The manufacturer of Sibutramine decided to stop producing the drug based on evidence of increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

What can we learn from all of this? When it comes to being overweight or obese, pills simply cannot reverse years of unhealthy eating and inactivity. To lose weight effectively and safely, it requires lifestyle change. It requires healthier eating, smaller portions, more fruits and vegetables, less processed food, and more moving your body. It isn’t glamorous, but it works!