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Nonprescription Products for Weight Loss

Overview

Many over-the-counter products for weight loss are available at drugstores, at supermarkets, and online. Many of these have never been proved effective. And those that are effective often come with warnings.

As with all over-the-counter medicine, be sure to follow the directions on the label.

These products include:

Appetite suppressants.

These medicines often work by making you less hungry.

Water-loss pills.

Diuretics, such as Aqua-Ban, only get rid of water. They don't reduce the amount of fat in your body.

Orlistat (Alli).

A nonprescription-strength form of the drug orlistat is available, sold as Alli. It blocks the body from taking in some of the fat from foods you eat.

Risks of taking over-the-counter weight-loss products

The risks of taking over-the-counter weight-loss products depend on which ones you take.

Be careful with:

Appetite suppressants.
  • Using these medicines to control your weight for long periods of time can be dangerous. Appetite suppressants are meant to be used only for a few weeks.
  • Do not use these medicines if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, thyroid problems, glaucoma, or depression.
Water-loss pills.

Diuretics, such as Aqua-Ban, reduce your weight by getting rid of water in your body. This may lead to dehydration or loss of essential minerals. Using water-loss pills this way is not recommended and can be dangerous.

Tell your doctor about any other prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements you are taking.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: December 27, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Theresa O'Young PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy