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Weight Loss Pills: what weight loss ads don't want you to know

If you've ever been tempted to buy a weight loss pill and wondered why you didn't get the weight loss results promised on the bottle, you're not alone.

As a healthcare professional, I wondered how supplement companies can get away with their exaggerated claims? So I did some research.

While regulatory agencies issue guidance on how to best protect consumers from harmful substances that can cause serious harm to their health, they don’t evaluate the claims made.

While the main regulatory agency that oversees weight loss pills is the FDA, (the Drug Enforcement Administration) enforces controlled substances including prescribed weight loss pills. There is a need for oversight as the competitive pressure in the supplement industry is the reason why so many weight loss supplement companies make inflated claims. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration does not guarantee safety with prescriptions weight loss pills.

Another agency, the FTC regulates how the products are marketed. They investigate false weight loss pill claims posted on the internet and enforce consumer protection in regards to how dietary supplements are advertised.

Legal requirements

That Relate to How Weight Loss Pills Are Marketed

While the remaining two agencies may be confused for being responsible for the same thing, the difference between the FDA and DEA is:

FDA is a governmental body that licenses and inspects legal drugs, additives and supplements.

DEA is a federal law enforcement agency dealing with drug crimes.

Weight loss pill companies market their products with exaggerated claims because they get away with it. Have you noticed that they always say to diet and exercise while taking the pills? That’s because diet and exercise are what works.

According to the National Institute of Health, “if the FDA finds a supplement to be unsafe, it may take enforcement action to remove the product from the market or ask the manufacturer to recall the product. The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission can also take regulatory actions against manufacturers that make unsubstantiated weight-loss claims about their products.”

However, supplements don’t require approval from the FDA before they go to market and keeping up with all the products is more than the FDA can handle.


Just because the bottle says natural doesn’t mean the ingredients can’t harm you. Some ingredients can interact with your medications so it’s important to ask your doctor if the supplement is safe for you to take. Taking more than the recommended dose can also cause serious side effects.

On the other hand, just because a weight-loss drug has undergone clinical studies does not mean the drug is safe for you. Phentermine is a stimulant that helps curb your appetite and increases your heart rate so it’s very important to be under a doctor’s care when taking this weight loss drug.


Weight loss medications require clinical testing which is vital to find out if the medication is effective and what the side effects are. Testing done on natural supplements are usually very limited and can be biased. Standardized testing is vital in order to assess if the product claims are accurately advertised.

If all the benefits of exercise came in a pill, everyone would take it.

Check out Healthwise Exercise TV: Weight Loss Workouts

No Hype, No Gimmicks, Doctor Approved, As seen on PBS TV

Healthwise Exercise TV are the producers of Suzanne Andrews Functional Fitness as seen on PBS TV since 2010.


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