Using weight-loss pills to kick-start your diet could be sabotaging your goals instead, according to a new study.
Slimming pills have a checkered past, with several brands like the notorious Fen-Phen being recalled over the years for serious side effects, including deaths. But since the Food and Drug Administration started regulating the market, there are now several brands on the market — though their promises are much less spectacular.
Still, they could serve as a starting point for those needing a way to begin losing weight. But that wasn’t the finding of a new joint study by three universities.
“Weight-management remedies that promise to reduce the risks of being overweight may undermine consumer motivation to engage in health-supportive behaviors,” write Lisa E. Bolton (Pennsylvania State University), Amit Bhattacharjee (Dartmouth College) and Americus Reed II (University of Pennsylvania).
“Put simply, why put effort into living a healthy lifestyle when a weight-management remedy can take care of the problem?”
Study participants were each given free access to a bowl of chocolate cookies, with one group advised ahead of time about a new powerful fat-fighting pill. The group that believed in the existence of the new pill ate significantly more cookies per person, with some participants consuming as many as 30.
These results suggest that people who most need to lose weight are also the ones most likely to dangerously increase their consumption of unhealthy foods when given an easy way to mitigate the effects of the foods they eat.
An estimated 35 percent of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
One positive finding showed that encouraging consumers to look beyond the marketing and find trustworthy information about a drug was very effective in reducing their false expectations and, therefore, preventing any unhealthy behavior.
“Given the ubiquity of remedies in today’s marketplace, more research is needed to understand the impact of remedy marketing on consumers,” the authors explain.“There is ample room for policy makers and responsible marketers to improve remedy marketing practices to minimize potentially harmful consequences.”
Pills on the market
Since 2010, the Food and Drug Administration has approved several prescription weight-loss pills — which it emphasizes are to be used along with diet and exercise. But health concerns remain with all of them, though the agency considers the potential weight loss benefits to outweigh those risks.
Contrave:A combination of two drugs for addiction and depression; patients lost an average of 2 percent more weight than with a placebo.
Qsymia:A combination of ashort-term weight loss pill and an anti-seizure medication; patients lost 6.7-8.9 percent more weight than with placebo.
Belviq:Activates serotonin receptors in the brain, which may help with feeling full after eating less food; patients lost about 3-3.7 percent more weight than with a placebo.