The Most Popular Over the Counter Weight Loss Products

It has been estimated that as much as 65% of adult Americans are suffering from obesity. This does not include those suffering from morbid obesity, an extreme form of the disease. Every year, the numbers continue to increase, and even children are getting affected. That is why extra measures are being taken to curb the spread of this disease.

About obesity

Simply put, obesity is the accumulation of body fat in the body. It can be measured roughly through the body mass index (BMI). The BMI is the proportion of your height to your weight. Morbid obesity is an extreme form of obesity, affecting those who are more than 100 lbs. overweight and have a BMI of over 40. If left untreated, obesity can lead to serious health complications like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

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Finding the cure

According to reports, Americans spend as much as $56 billion on weight loss products, including weight loss pills, exercise, and surgery. However, because of all the media hype on being thin, over the counter weight loss product has become widely popular. But here's the catch: of the billions spent on weight loss products, around $6 billion goes to ineffective and sometimes even harmful over the counter weight loss product.

How it works

An over the counter weight loss product mainly consists of appetite suppressants and fat burners. Suppressants work by "tricking" the body into thinking that it is full. Meanwhile, fat burners block natural chemicals that help the body break down fat. At first, using these pills can be good, even effective. However, fraudulent products can lead to serious complications.

Commonly used weight loss products

Below are some of the commonly used over the counter weight loss product:

o Ephedra - this is the most common type of over the counter weight loss product. Its active ingredient, ephedrine, is mainly used to cure asthma, but it can also suppress your appetite. However, recent studies have shown that this drug has serious side effects such as high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, insomnia, nervousness, tremors, seizures, heart attacks, strokes and even death. In 2004, FDA officially banned this product from commercial sales.

o St. John's wort - this herbal product is mainly used as an antidepressant and has recently been used for weight loss. However, little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of this drug on weight loss. It also contains the active ingredient ephedra.

o 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) - this ingredient is extracted from a West African plant seed and can be harmful to the liver in large doses.

o Chitosan - a dietary supplement made from chitin, a starch found in the skeleton of shrimp, crab, and other shellfish. It works by binding with fatty foods and removing them from your body.

o Chromium - a nutrient believed to enhance the effect of insulin, thereby making the breakdown of carbohydrates faster.

o Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) - believed to reduce body fat, decrease appetite, and build body muscle. However, studies have shown that CLA has side effects including diarrhea, indigestion and other gastrointestinal problems.

o Hoodia - otherwise known as Oprah's weight loss secret, this dietary supplement claims to help suppress appetite.


Because of the influx of weight loss products sold over the counter, users should be extra careful when buying them. A lot of over the counter weight loss product come without sufficient scientific studies to support their claims. Add to that all the media hype on their effectiveness, and it is almost impossible to fully scrutinize the effects of each over the counter weight loss product. Scientists are being bombarded by the constant emergence of new weight loss products, and they can't possibly review each of them. As a consumer, it is your responsibility to judge each product yourself.


As consumers, scrutiny and curiosity are the best weapons against fraudulent weight loss producta. Do not just trust an over the counter weight loss product because it was endorsed by a celebrity. Do your own research about the drug, its ingredients, and its possible side effects. Better yet, consult with a professional on what steps to take. Here are other tips:

o If you immediately notice any side effects, stop taking the drug and see a doctor immediately.

o It is best not to take diet pills if you are pregnant or are attempting to become pregnant.

o Do not ingest large quantities of herbal supplements

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