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Obesity is fast growing into a national issue. Several factors such as sedentary lifestyle increased consumption of junk food, and generally, unhealthy life choices contribute to the growing problem of uncontrolled weight gain. And while switching to a healthy diet or adopting an active lifestyle can help, the results may not be seen quickly enough. This is where appetite suppressants come in. They help to lose some weight rapidly, and as a result, they’re used by people who want to experience some rapid and noticeable weight loss. But these suppressants come with their own pros and cons as we’ll see in this article.

What Are Appetite Suppressants?

Appetite suppressants, also known as diet pills, are essentially drugs that help you feel full and control your cravings. Typically, without these suppressants, your brain sends out signals that let your body know when you’re hungry. Once your body interprets the signals and recognizes the signs of hunger, you react by eating food to alleviate the hunger.

How Do Appetite Suppressants Work?

When you take appetite suppressants, your body doesn’t experience hunger pangs, because these pills trigger hormonal signals and responses that interrupt the brain’s natural signal for hunger. So, you continue to experience a feeling of fullness even when it’s normally time to eat. Eventually, when you do get around to eating, these pills also make you feel full faster. This way, you not only eat less frequently than you would normally have without these drugs, but you also eat much less quantity of food than your regular portion size.

What Is the Purpose of Taking Appetite Suppressants?

As you’ve seen, appetite suppressants curb your hunger pangs and make you eat less food, less frequently. Naturally, as a result, you start to lose weight because you’re consuming much less food. Diet pills are generally taken by people who want to shed a few pounds quickly but don’t have the time or the interest to engage in vigorous exercise or regular workouts.

Is There a Need for Appetite Suppressants?

The debate about the necessity of appetite suppressants has been going on for a while now. Let’s take a look at both sides of the subject.

The Case for Appetite Suppressants

The need for appetite suppressants stems from the existence of conditions like obesity. These diet pills help obese people lose weight substantially over a short period of time. Many overweight people perceive appetite suppressants as a better alternative to liposuction or fat-reduction surgery, which is relatively invasive and can be pretty expensive as well. Appetite suppressants are also more easily available, and some pills are even available as over-the-counter medications. These drugs are also useful for people who cannot incorporate a workout regime for various reasons, such as an incredibly busy schedule, or a handicap that prevents them from staying active. Last, they are particularly helpful for people who have trouble managing their food cravings.

The Case against Appetite Suppressants

Amphetamines can cause addiction, hypertension, and tachycardia. However, they are often used as appetite suppressants. Following their use in German and Finnish militaries during the Second World War, they were made available for commercial use. Eventually, in the 1950s, they were banned in many parts of the world because of their negative side effects. Many other diet pills, like aminorex and fenfluramine, were withdrawn from the market in the 1960s and 1990s respectively, due to established side effects like damage to the heart valve. There were several other unfavorable side effects As a result of this,  many such appetite suppressants were withdrawn from the market on the request of the FDA.

As a workaround, many people take the help of natural appetite suppressants like green tea extracts, coffee, and fenugreek. Some people even practice the habit of drinking water prior to each meal to make themselves feel fuller, thus naturally suppressing their appetite naturally.

The Main Pros and Cons to Consider

Like just about everything related to regulation of diets, appetite suppressants also have their upsides and disadvantages. Let’s first take a look at some of the pros associated with appetite suppressants.

They Elevate Metabolism Rates

Many prescribed appetite suppressants not only limit hunger and control cravings but also increase the metabolic rate. This translates to more calories being burned during the course of the day even if you lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle. The combination of lower food intake and an increased metabolism works to bring about a greater amount of weight loss when a person is on diet pills. This gets the required results faster and with very little effort from the person taking the suppressants.

They Have Been Proven to Work

Studies have been carried out on many prescribed appetite suppressants like Xenical in clinical trials. The results showed that around half of the total participants achieved at least a 5 percent reduction in their total body mass by using these pills. And around 1 in 4 people show a 10 percent decrease. What this means for a 200-pound person is that they can experience a weight loss of around 20 pounds merely by taking these pills. Since these suppressants have been proven to work, they’re a preferred weight loss solution among many people.

They Supply Energy

Appetite suppressants generally use amphetamines or caffeine as the primary ingredient to suppress the appetite. Since amphetamine-based suppressants are not very popular, most over-the-counter pills contain caffeine. The advantage of using caffeine is that it supplies the required amounts of energy and helps you stay active and energetic even if you haven’t eaten. And when you do eat your food, you’ll find that the combination of caffeine with regular food helps you feel refreshed and stay brisk for longer periods.

They Offer Quick Results

Practicing a new diet or incorporating a regular workout routine can take a long time to provide noticeable results. It also requires a lot of willpower to keep going up to a point where you can start to see results. With appetite suppressants, you’ll find that the initial results are often noticeable pretty quickly. People who take diet pills experience a quick loss in weight initially. This helps to motivate people and encourages them to adopt a healthier route like diet changes and vigorous workouts.

They Are Affordable

Adopting a healthy diet plan can turn out to be pretty expensive in the long run. A gym membership in a competitive space can also be costly. As for other methods of fat reduction, such as liposuction, bariatric surgeries, and fad diets, there’s no doubt that the costs involved are substantial. Appetite suppressants, on the other hand, are relatively more affordable. Also, since they reduce the quantity of food consumed by an individual, they result in lesser food expenses.

They Are Easily Available

While some appetite suppressants are only available if you have a physician’s prescription, many other variants are available as over-the-counter medications. All you need to do is visit a local pharmacist or a retailer’s health departmental store and get a diet pill that works. It’s that simple. The easy availability of appetite suppressants means that anyone who wants to lose weight can begin by purchasing a diet pill of their choice. This makes weight loss goals easy to achieve for a large segment of the population.

However, even with all these benefits, appetite suppressants have their downsides. Explained below are some such cons of these suppressants.

They Can Cause Long-Term Weight Gain

Sure, appetite suppressants cause noticeable weight loss in the short run. However, once people go off these pills, it can be a challenge to keep the lost weight from piling back up again. Many people regain the weight they lost within 12 to 24 months of going off the suppressants. Sometimes, they can gain more weight than they lost. The trick to working around this is to adopt a healthy lifestyle that involves adequate exercise and includes a wholesome diet.

They Can Be Addictive

Amphetamines form the primary component in certain appetite suppressants. They have been proven to have mildly addictive effects on the people who consume them. This means that the development of physical and psychological dependence on these suppressants is likely. Also, once you develop a tolerance or resistance to amphetamines over time, it’s possible that the diet pills will stop being effective eventually. So, the combined effect of addiction and resistance can be a lethal blend.

They Can Mess With Your Sleep

It’s generally advisable to take appetite suppressants at the start of the day because they contain stimulants like caffeine, which can keep you brisk and active. Some people take them just before lunch. The downside to this is that since the stimulants in the pills can last for ten to twelve hours in the body, they can mess with the sleeping pattern and leave you awake even when it’s well past your usual bedtime. Eventually, the lack of sufficient sleep has its own set of negative side effects.

They Could Have Side-Effects

Even FDA-approved diet pills can have some side effects such as rapid heartbeats, which is a result of taking pills like Phentermine. Also, rapid weight loss associated with appetite suppressants can turn out to be harmful to the body. Since the body is eating into its own reserves to produce energy, some of the fat that’s being burned may not be properly digested. This can result in the fat being lodged in the gallbladder, eventually causing gallstones.


Although appetite suppressants do have several advantages, it is advisable to only use them as a last resort, and with your physician’s recommendation. A healthy lifestyle that includes wholesome food choices and adequate activity is always the best solution if you want to enjoy weight loss in the long run, with results that last for much longer.

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