Do you think slimming pills work?

There are millions of slimming pills product on the market with various marketing strategy, not only in pills, but there are also, drinks or beverages, functional, ointment, lotion, and many other products which claimed that it can be used for weight loss. But is it really works?

In this article we are going to focus solely on slimming products that people consume like functional foods, pills, beverages, not for external use like ointment, lotion, or other types of slimming products since different kind of product has different method on how they give effect to the body.

 

Slimming pills on the market is either from drug, or drug combination or from herbal supplement. As for drugs at the moment, in Malaysia we only use two types of drugs which is anti-obesity medicine (AOM) that act on gastrointestinal tracts (GIT) or better known as orlistat (brand name Xenical) and drugs which is used to suppress appetite or better known as Sibutramine or phentermine. The consumption of all these drugs must be prescribed and monitored by doctors.

 

 

There are certain criteria for doctors to consider in order to prescribed slimming pills such as when individual has BMI more than 30, but most importantly is when the individual have tried to loss weight like eat healthily and exercise. Once individual have achieved certain weight loss then the doctor can no longer prescribed the medication, which is why, the consumption of such drugs needs to be monitored by doctors only. Also, to note that there have been cases previously where the prescription of slimming drugs which harm individual health, the drug is called Fen-Phen, it was phenomenal back then, it was a combination from Phentermine and Fenfluramine, but Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA) already take it back from the market as it can harm human health specifically heart valve. When prescribing slimming drugs doctors will usually conduct full body examination and blood test from time to time thus whatever things that is not suitable for body may be detected early, unlike consuming slimming pills without prescription.

 

As for herbal supplement slimming pills, the ingredients can be from various ingredients, either plant-based ingredients or animal-based ingredient. Since it does not consider as drugs thus it is not put under the strict and effectiveness requirement that drugs are in.

 

In Malaysia, all these supplement products need to be notified to Ministry of Health (MOH) under the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) for its safety. Once it is being notified, NPRA will provide the supplement products with notification number. Many product founders use this as their marketing strategy as to promote that their product is approved by MOH. However, products with notification number does not means that they are safe. It means that they are confident that their product is safe so that MOH can come and spot check anytime to make sure that their products is safe. Of course, before NPRA provide the product with the notification number they already go through the product ingredients and all that, but different batches of supplement are produce over the time, which can be different from the one sent for checking initially.

 

Among common ingredients that are in slimming pills supplement are chitosan (from shrimp shell), caffeine, bitter orange, green tea, beta gluten, carnitine, raspberry ketone, white kidney bean, yohimbe, guar gum, garcinia cambogia, fucoxanthin and many more. All these ingredients usually do not have conclusive study findings but rather mixing or promising study findings.

 

 

Which is why when it comes to supplement consumption it is very much suggested to go through below guideline from MOH:

 

  1. Check the products that you are going to buy whether it is registered with the regulatory authority.
  2. Some of the products (including herbal) may also cause adverse effects. Make sure your medical condition is not affected by it if you would like to try these products. Seek advice from healthcare practitioner before consuming it.
  3. Read label carefully and do not take more than the listed dose.
  4. These products are licensed as either over the counter (OTC), traditional, or functional food, therefore it is not ethical for the founder to make claim such as ‘stops from being fat’ or ‘speeds up metabolism’.
  5. Avoid slimming products which promote rapid weight loss, promise quick result, suggest that you do not need to exercise or diet, fail to recommend dietary advice or worse encourage that you can still consume anything you want


In conclusion, whether slimming pills work or not it is still depending on type of slimming pills itself whether it is considered as drugs (need doctor prescription) or herbal one which is over the counter pills. All in all, health experts agree that making lifestyle changes including following a healthy eating pattern, reducing calorie intake, and engage in physical activity is the basis for achieving long term weight loss. But since making lifestyle changes can be difficult to some people, even more nowadays that there are many temptations for unhealthy food around us, not to mention the processed food which is marketed as ready to eat or ready to cook food (microwaved) but contain high trans-fat. Thus, it is really suggested that if you are to consume any slimming pills, get advice from healthcare professionals and accompanied it with healthy eating habit and exercise.

 

References


  1. Ministry of Health (MOH). MyHealth Portal. Slimming Pills. http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/slimming-pills-2/
  2. National Institute of Health (NIH). Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional/
  3. Lasting damage from Fen Phen. https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20081105/lasting-heart-damage-from-fen-phen#1