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Nonprescription Products for Weight Loss - Topic Overview

Many nonprescription products for weight loss are available at drugstores and supermarkets and over the Internet. Many of these have never been proved effective. And those that are effective often come with warnings. For example, many diet pills promote water loss from the body and may lead to dehydration or loss of essential minerals.

Nonprescription appetite suppressants often work by making you less hungry.

  • Do not use these nonprescription medicines if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, thyroid problems, glaucoma, or depression.
  • Appetite suppressants are only intended for use for a few weeks. But control of obesity is a lifelong activity. It is costly and possibly dangerous to depend on the use of these medicines to control your weight for long periods of time. If you are going to use these drugs to help you lose weight, be sure you also make healthy changes to your diet and get regular exercise.
  • Tell your doctor about any other prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements you are taking. These medicines could affect other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes or change your blood pressure or cholesterol or both.

Some people use water-loss pills (diuretics, such as Aqua-Ban) to lose weight. But these pills only get rid of water and do not reduce the amount of fat in your body. Using water-loss pills this way is not recommended and can be dangerous.

A nonprescription-strength form of the drug orlistat is available, sold as Alli. It blocks the body from absorbing some of the fat from foods you eat. As with all over-the-counter medicine, be sure to follow the directions on the medication label slideshow.gif.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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