Pros & Cons of Diet Pills

Obesity is a problem plaguing millions of Americans. It not only poses a health risk, but can damage your self-esteem as well. Losing excess weight is not an easy task for most. Breaking old eating habits and developing new ones can prove quite a challenge. The manufacturers of weight-loss pills understand this, marketing each new product as if it's a miracle cure in a bottle. Before using these products, weigh the pros and cons.

Pro: Diet Jump Start

Some prescription weight-loss medications benefit certain people who haven't been able to lose weight through diet and exercise. ClevelandClinicHealth explains these medications are not for those who wish to lose weight for cosmetic reasons; they are for people with a body mass index greater than 30. If this pertains to you, taking a weight-loss medication under the supervision of your doctor can help you lose a modest amount of weight while giving you an opportunity to make the dietary and behavioral changes needed for long-term weight-loss success.

Con: Misconception

The manufacturers of weight-loss pills, rather over-the-counter or prescription, lead you to believe that their products alone can solve your weight problem. The more you fall for this misconception, the less likely you are to lose weight and keep it off. Although some diet pills are effective, you are sure to regain the weight unless you incorporate healthy eating and exercise into your everyday life while taking the pill.

Pro: Improving Your Health

Although diet pills might provide a modest weight loss -- 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight -- this reduction can decrease your blood pressure, decrease your blood sugar levels, decrease your cholesterol and increase your sensitivity to insulin. This, in turn, decreases your risk of developing diabetes, according to

Con: Safety

The safety of both prescription and over-the-counter diet pills is frequently questioned. Before a prescription diet pill is released for use, the manufacturer must prove its efficacy and safety to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who then either approves or denies it. The real problem lies with over-the-counter diet pills. Marketed as dietary supplements, the manufacturers do not have to prove anything to the FDA. Once for sale, however, the FDA can monitor and control the sale of the product, issue safety warnings and stop marketing of the drug if they feel the drug is harmful to your health. Ephedra, for instance, was banned by the FDA in 2004 due to the possibility of side effects such as heart attack and stroke, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center.