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Negative Effects of Diet Pills

By Tammy Dray ; Updated July 18, 2017

Diet pills are unregulated, so there’s no way to know which ones work and how safe they are. The U.S. Fodd and Drug Administration doesn’t consider diet pills as drugs, so unless there’s a large number of complaints about a specific brand or type of pills, it won’t intervene or issue a warning. Taking diet pills is not the magic solution it is supposed to be. In fact, unless you change the way you eat and exercise, even the few pounds you might lose with diet pills are bound to come back.


According to the Federal Trade Commission, many diet pills’ advertised benefits don’t really exist. This is especially true of pills that make outrageous promises such as “lose 20 lbs. in a week” or “lose weight eating all you want.” For many people, this can become an ongoing problem. Instead of concentrating on learning to eat well and changing your eating habits, you might become addicted to the promise of greater but easy weight loss. According to eating disorders website Something Fishy, some pills might have addictive qualities, so you end up feeling good when you take them and sick or down when you stop, perpetuating a cycle.

Common Side Effects

According to Something Fishy, diet pills can cause a variety of side effects. Most of them are minor and, while troublesome, they are not dangerous. Common side effects include insomnia, restlessness, headaches, diarrhea or dry mouth. According to Fraud Guides, pills that promise to block carbs or fat can cause diarrhea, cramps and other intestinal problems, even if taken as directed.

Serious Side Effects

While most side effects of pills disappear when you stop taking your pills, this is not always the case. Heart arrhythmias and palpitations, tightness in the chest, dizziness and confusion can happen with long-term usage of diet pills. According to Something Fishy, congestive heart failure or strokes are also possible, as are convulsions and renal failure. Phen/Fen, a diet pill that is now banned in the U.S., caused primary pulmonary hypertension in some users, which can lead to respiratory failure and death.

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