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Actions and side effects of diet pills     
Diet pills are used for weight reduction, for suppressing appetite etc. These are available over the counter (OTC). Generally these are a combination of pheylpropanolamine (PPA) and caffeine. The ingredient PPA acts on the central nervous system (CNS). Along with its other effects, PPA acting on the CNS also suppresses hunger and gives feeling of being full. Caffeine also acts in similar way, helping in suppressing the desire to eat.

These medications do not perform any miracle to dispose off the obesity (OR to make the obesity disappear) Along with the diet pills, it is essential t have a healthy diet and also physical activity programme. It is advisable to use these prescriptions only if excess weight poses medical risk to the patient. These should not be used for cosmetic purposes.

These medications are prescribed mainly for the patients with:

  • BMI or Body Mass Index of 30 or more
  • Obesity related health problems caused due to obesity, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or presence of abnormal amount of fat in blood (dyslipidemia)

BMI shows relation between weight and height of a person and is important in deciding when obesity is likely to cause medical risk.

Information about FDA approved diet pills:

Generic name Action of drug Side effects

Sibutramine Suppresses appetite Increase in heart rate & BP

Phendimetrazine Suppresses appetite Anxiety, insomnia

Diethylpropion Suppresses appetite Insomnia, giddiness, nervousness

Orlistat Inhibits lipase Problems of GI track

Phentermine Suppresses appetite Increase in BP & heart rate insomnia.

Generally even the FDA approved diet pills are prescribed only for short term or few weeks. Even the medications approved for long-term usage are not advisable for more than two years.

Some medicines, which are prescribed for different health problems, like diabetes, depression, seizures etc are found to help in losing weight. These drugs are being studied further for their use in reducing obesity.

Benefits of diet pills:

The effects of these prescriptions on weight loss vary from person to person. Within six months of medication, optimum results are generally achieved. This weight loss helps the patients who face possibilities of health risk due to their obesity. This diet pill induced weight loss helps in correcting blood pressure, blood cholesterol, triglycerides etc.

Precautions :

Generally these diet pills cause only mild side effects. But along with suppressing appetite, the ingredients of weight control medication also can have certain side effects, which may prove hazardous to health. The ingredient PPA can alter blood pressure and also can cause insomnia, hallucinations, nausea, anxiety etc.

The other ingredient caffeine is generally taken as stimulant against drowsiness. But this caffeine stimulation can make a difference to body’s circulatory system and thus resulting in changes in blood pressure.

As such obese people are more prone to high blood pressure (hypertension). So precautionary measures are required while consuming these medications. Such appetite suppressing drugs are not advisable for patients with high blood pressure, glaucoma, heart problems or thyroid gland problems.

In most of the cases, once the weight reducing medication is stopped, patients tend to regain the lost weight. Obesity is chronic disease, so combining exercise and proper eating habits along with medication is necessary to maintain the weight loss.

It’s not always possible to achieve a perfect body weight even by using weight loss medicines. If these prescriptions help in reducing 5 to 10 % of obese patient’s initial weight, then that, too, could prove helpful in leading a more healthy life.


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