NOV 07, 2015 09:40 AM PST

The Reality and Future of Weight Loss Pills

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Our society is obsessed with health. We want to feel good and look healthy, but most of us are less inclined have to actually work for it. That's why weight loss pills are so enticing, requiring minimal effort to burn fat. But what is the scientific reality of these diet pills?

Weight loss supplements abound in just about any drugstore and supermarket nowadays. Because they are not regulated by the FDA, these supplements are able to make vague and wondrous claims about melting away fat. It is probably no surprise to most people that nearly all of these supplements are, quite simply, bogus. The one mild exception is green tea, which modestly affects weight loss via the synergistic actions of caffeine and catechins.

What about current prescription weight loss meds? It turns out the effects of prescribed appetite suppressants and fat blockers are indeed better than the over-the-counter supplements, but only moderately. Whatever weight lost from these drugs are mostly short-lived as our bodies adjust to the chemicals or the side effects get in the way.

But there is still hope for achieving a healthy bod without sacrificing any bacon! Researchers are now concentrating on ways to increase mitochondria production to boost cellular metabolism, and ways to convert white fat-storing cells into brown fat-busting cells. Several compounds are already in development, but the scientists are still working on balancing efficacy and toxicity.

While the future research looks promising, it will probably take another 10 years before the drugs are market-ready. In the mean time, the old adage of diet and exercise remains the best form of weight loss medicine.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 12, 2019
Cardiology
NOV 12, 2019
Heart Related Fatalities On The Rise
Recently published in JAMA, a new study sought to investigate national trends in deaths resulting from cardiometabolic disease. The study looked at cardiom...
NOV 12, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2019
This Mantis Uses Kung Fu Stances to Intimidate Predators
Virtually all mantids are known to science as carnivores, but perhaps unsurprisingly, some other creepy crawlies, such as jumping spiders, will also try to...
NOV 12, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2019
All Squirrels Enjoy Nuts, and Some Shamelessly Steal Them
It’s no secret that squirrels enjoy eating nuts, but a lesser known fact is that many of these cunning rodents also enjoy the thrill and easy reward...
NOV 12, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 12, 2019
NASA's Dawn Mission Taught Us Much About the Asteroid Vesta
In 2011, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft arrived at its destination, enabling planetary scientists with the American space agency to study a particularly capt...
NOV 12, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 12, 2019
Here's What We Know So Far About Titan's Liquid Methane Oceans
Titan is perhaps one of the most captivating moons orbiting Saturn today; so much so that astronomers spent a lot of time studying it when the Cassini miss...
NOV 12, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 12, 2019
Is the Milky Way Too "Gassy"?
Astrophysicists have long thought that our home galaxy the Milky Way has been constantly losing mass due to the escape of hydrogen gas. However, by observi...
Loading Comments...