We Know Diet Pills Don't Work, But We're Still Buying

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Most people realize that if a supplement's claims seem too good to be true, they probably are. "Lose 10 pounds in 2 days!" or "Look like this swimsuit model in less than a week!" are claims that make most of us roll our eyes and shake our heads. But for some reason, companies keep making diet pills and other supplements. What is that reason? Because they still make money. Even though we know they aren't likely to work, a lot of us are still spending big bucks in the hopes that diet pills will help us reach our goals more quickly and easily. Why?

A recent survey, conducted by Thompson Reuters Pulse Healthcare, examined the health attitudes and behaviours of 100,000 U.S. households. According to the report, "The survey found that nearly 60% of participants believe that advertising for dietary supplements is untrustworthy." 63% of those surveyed had seen or heard dietary supplement ads within the last 6 months. People with higher incomes or advanced education (college degrees) were more likely to report exposure to the ads. Despite this high level of exposure, less than 12% of participants said they were influenced to buy the product from what they saw in the ads.

These results suggest to me that even though most of us are seeing supplement ads, very few of us are buying them. But that doesn't seem to be the case. We spend billions of dollars each year on products that are supposed to help us lose weight more quickly or get that 6-pack we've been dreaming about. I think it's more likely that people aren't being truthful about how much they are influenced by ads for these products. Every day I see members posting on the SparkPeople Message Boards, asking about dietary supplements. The posts usually start out with: "I know diet pills don't work, but I'm just looking for something to jumpstart my weight loss. Are there any good ones worth trying?"

A new German study found that a number of weight loss supplements can't live up to their promises. In fact, these pills didn't seem to work any better than placebos. Researchers studied the products on 189 people, and while some people lost weight, it wasn't a significant difference compared to those who took the "fake" placebo pills.

Why do you think we're spending so much money on something that deep down, we know isn't going to work? Is it desperation? A desire for a quick fix? Lack of education about these products?

What do you think?

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Take a look around you and observe the epidemic of obesity. If those things worked there would be no overweight or obese people- if a magic fix existed we would all be at our ideal weight, Why people continue to waste hard earned money on snake oil is a tribute to the advertising industry. Report
I can't speak for everyone else, only myself. I've tried lots of different diet pills and programs in my pre-spark life. Why? I was looking for a magical fix that didn't require me to sacrifice anything. I didn't want to work out, and I wasn't able or willing to give up my poor eating habits entirely. It took most of my life to finally realize that the only way to control my weight was to watch everything that went in my mouth, and move my body more. Report
I know a SPARKER who has used ALLI and has released 134#. She said she "sits down to eat" her THREE PLANNED meals each day, and before each one she "shakes her pill box" as a sign to herself. She has followed the plan and she said she knows if she has more FAT GRAMS than it allows that she will have an "accident" before she gets to the bathroom, which happened ONE TIME, and that was enough to teach her not to go over the allotted amount. It was worked for her because she has followed it. I read 40 millions people have tried ALLI over=the-counter, but I doubt they have been as disciplined as she has. Report
Unfortunately, too many people are looking for the magic cure for obesity. They don't want to do the work. they just want to take a pill and have the weight magically disappear. I wish weight loss were that simple, but it isn't.

Some people also want to be able to eat whatever they want and still lose. Look at all the people who took Alli and didn't change their eating habits. they figured the pill would do that for them i.e. eliminate the fat from their diet.

As long as there are people desperate enough to try "anything", there will always be a market for diet pills.

I think people get desperate and don't know where else to turn. I think they get discouraged that they are not loosing the weight fast enough. THey need to realize it probably took years to get the the overweight state in life and it might take that long to loose it and be healthy. People want a quick fix. THey don't want to wait for a year or so to be skinny. It is sad. Report
Ive come to believe that people just don't want to work for anything these days. Not even their own health. They want instant results and will do anything to get them. My daddy always told me slow and steady wins the race and I believe that. Report
I don't believe that taking diet pills and using other "remedies" help witht he problem, actually it creates more.I believe that it is a lifestyle change and any change in your life will take time to become a change. It's learning process because as soon as you stop taking the pills, then what?! We need to learn how to be smart about our healthy and weight! Report
When I was most tempted to buy them, it was because I felt so hopeless over my other efforts. Losing weight was the driving force in my life at the time. I really believe that for the majority of people who buy them, it is for the same reason - desperation, hopelessness over current failed efforts, and the willingness to try anything, even if they know it isn't the smartest decision. Report
I think it varies from person to person. It can be an "easy fix" for some. For others it can be because they're desperate to lose weight and don't know how, or are afraid to exercise. Some folks are tired of doing conventional calories in, calories out and just want to see results NOW. Others are simply swayed when they see their favorite TV Pesonality pushing them, and have "just got to try it." There are a plethora of reasons, none of which are really good or compelling.

Here is a story that I recently witnessed.

A friend of mine needs to lose about 20+ pounds and get in shape for her wedding. Her fiance is joining her in getting shape, but he has significantly more weight to lose than she does.

My friend doesn't want to take weight loss supplements because she thinks they're a joke, but her fiance does take them and exercises regularly with her. He also travels, so he exercises at the gyms at the hotels he stays at, while my friend remains at home with their three children, all of whom are bordering on teenagerdom (or are already there) and a high stress job.

She sees the weight practically melting off of him, and attributes it to the pills he's taking, while she's gaining weight and getting frustrated by it.

Most of us know that her fiance, being a larger man, will lose weight more quickly than she will simply because he HAS more of it to lose.. and coupled with her stress levels and the fact that she's exercising, SHE will gain weight at first simply because of muscle gain and the cortisol levels within her own body are holding on for dear life to her fat. She also made the mistake of weighing in daily and eating under her recommended calories.

However, in her eyes, she's seeing that she's doing everything perfectly (with the exception of the calories, because I pointed that out to her already and she fixed it,) and is gaining while her beau is losing -while taking the pills.-

So, she decided to try them herself. Luckily, the GNC member she spoke with when she went to get some was a personal trainer, and told her exactly what she needed to hear: It takes time. Don't weigh yourself for the first month. Abs are the most deceptive part of your body if you've got belly fat. Etc. She didn't end up buying the pills.

If only more supplement stores came with knowledgeable, honest people like him! Report
all three-- desperation, quick fix and lack of knowledge. combine that with a low-self esteem and you fall prey! I did at one point.
the only ppl who benefit are the companies and the spokesperson. $$$ THAT'S IT.
I have to admit I am one of those persons who "I know diet pills don't work, but I'm just looking for something to jumpstart my weight loss." I was one who always wanted to lose weight but never tried anything I just spoke it and never acted on it. One day after already having a spark page I turned to a pill and got actively involved with spark. At that point I knew that my accomplishment was not due to the pill but rather the effort I was putting in to actually lose the weight. For me even though I knew it was not an effective thing, I used it to realize that I didn't need a magic pill but rather a boost of knowledge taht being lazy was not gonna get me desired results.

I have never tried diet pills. I had tried fad diets, like SB, but I am too scared to put stuff into my body. The article did fail to mention the health ramifications of taking medications to lose weight. Anything like that can mess up our hormones and make it all that much harder to lose weight. I wish this stuff was illegal to sell! Report
I will admit that I am tempted to buy them every time I see an advertisement, but I don't actually do it. I think it just wishful thinking on my part and everyone else's part too. We want to believe! Report
I think were looking for a quick easy way to lose with not much effort. I think that taking those are dangerous If it worked we would do anything to be skinny. so determination and effort willpower to succeed to do it rite we have too put the time and effort into it. too be skinny is work we must do to succeed! we can do it Report
Those over the counter diet pills have been around forever. You would think by now everybody would know that they DON"T work, but like they say "there's a sucker born every minute!" Report
i have to admit, i still buy alli, even though i havent really lost any more weight using it...i guess it just gives us that feeling that we are doing something more. i do not use any diet pills that have any kind of caffeine or any of the supplements, i have high bp and cant stand that extra fast racing heart. Report
The drug companies know that those trying to lose weight are vulnerable. many are looking for quick fixes to a problem that took months or years to create. Let's get rid of the weight the way most of us gained it, slowly, and include the things we ommitted when gaining, diet and exercise. Report
I always knew that diet pills didn't work, but I used them for the placebo effect. They made me think that I was doing something to help control my appetite which helped. Usually I tried them for a couple of weeks and then went back to my old habits. We all want that magic pill. I sure wish I had it! Report
There is a common perception that pills represent "the easy way." Diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle are the hard way. The funny thing is that if ask people "would you rather spend an extra 5 hours per week at work for a pill that might nor might not work, or use those 5 hours to engage in moderate exercise" I think exercise would win with most people. The fact that we work for money, and use money for diet pills ends up clouding our judgement. Report
I totally agree that they don't work. If even one worked, don't you think everyone who has a problem with weight would take it and be thin? We are silly people if we believe there is a MAGIC pill to solve our problems. Report
It makes me so angry that these companies prey on people's desperation and low self-esteem! I only wish everyone could learn the real secrets of a healthy lifestyle - good nutrition and exercise! Report
The thing about most diet pills is that if you follow the instructions, they tell you to follow a reduced calorie diet and moderate exercise. Of course you're going to lose weight! You don't need the pill, but some people need the motivation of following the plan. I did lose 10 pounds or so with Alli, but stopped it after a month or two, as it occurred to me that my weight loss was caused by eating right, not popping a pill. Report
I think we all secretly hope that getting the weight off can be as easy as waking up one morning and "poof" the weight is gone. We dont want to change our habits but we'll do anything to avoid the right solutions... face it we are a lazy generation anything that can get us results that fits in the palm of our hands.. we will be tempted to try! Report
Clever marketing. You might not buy if they say "lose 10 pounds in 2 days" (too outrageous! although you do get the folks born yesterday...) but you might just give it a second thought if you heard "lose fat while preserving lean muscle"... I can't deal with pill popping so it's no nevermind to me. A chewy multivitamin once a day is all I can cope with! *LOL* Report
These are good questions that I have pondered often - the tv is covered up with infomercials/commercials on pills, shakes, crap you shake on your food, various exercise contraptions - it is the very definition of insanity! The bottom line is we are a fat nation and people are desperate. They are looking for any way out of the darkness of their weight issues. Many, many times I have been asked "how did you do it?" about my 80 lb. weight loss. This question is funny, really, because there is ONLY ONE WAY TO DO IT - EAT LESS, MOVE MORE, DO THE MENTAL WORK. But, for the most part, when that question is asked they want me to say I took a pill, read a book, chomped on a "special" cookie, whatever, anything except that I put in the work. Yes, we are a society that has moved in the direction of making things easier for ourselves and we are paying the price. I wish the FDA would ban all this absurd crap from coming to the market, but that ain't gonna happen. I feel for all the desperate people out there that fall prey to these senseless claims. It is so simple - put the work in - reap the benefits. Continue to search out an easy way and continue to spin round and round on a merry-go-round of failure and desperation. So simple, but apparantly so very hard. Report
We all want a magic wand, and if its as easy as downing a pill with a glass of water....why not? You mean I don't have to take any responsibility for my choices, can keep going to my favorite drive-thru every day, stay nice and comfy on my couch, AND lose weight? Yeah, too bad I have glasses to read the fine print, know the side effects, and know that this will not end with a super-model-me playing on the beach. Report
I don't think I've ever tried OTC diet pills. Have done prescription meds twice, but the last one (Meridia) was a very bad experience for me, and will not use it or any of its cousins again!

Really this is all just about "keeping up with the Jones'" -- we see guys and girls who are slim, trim and buff, and we want what they have. But the reality is that how "they" got there was hard work, but the med companies want you to believe their drug will allow you to not have to make the sacrifices. Report
Very clever marketing, plus some desiring a quick fix, and others looking for additional assurance or assitance perhaps to reach their goals, can make these things enticing. I think even those doing amazingly well on their journey will admit it is an emotional process, if you are hit at the wrong moment with a great commercial it may entice you to buy. Report
I see no problem in incorporating a natural metabolism booster (green tea!) or herbal appetite supressant as a PART of your weight loss efforts. The problem with pills is that people think they REPLACE the hard work of cutting calories and working out... and that is not the case. You have to make better choices to lose weight and be healthy. There is no shame or desperation in using a pill, and I have had success with my current all natural, herbal supplement in conjunction with counting calories and exercise. Report
Speaking from experience...it is the quick fix. When I was in my 20's my doctor gave me the REAL diet pills....I was not even fat. I weighed in about 140-135. I had the cleanest house in town and got down to about 125. For me that was skinny. I never ate, never slept and was totally dependent. Fortunately these are now illegal because they were SPEED!
The newer pills like Ali (spelling?) and the metabolism boosters are pretty ineffective and because of my prior experience...I stay far away. I may be heavier now and the going is slower...but I am in a much better place
i think its terrifying! having been anorexic in college, art school that is, i was really driven by society's ideals of the human body, how we should look, and what some people would do to get there. this was the age of 'metabolife356' and i was reading articles about people blowing holes in their aorta because of diet pills, and it eye opening and gravely scary. i did a lot of work to show my fellow students what was out there and how dangerous it was...but in the end, the media, society, and our raucous low self-esteem always seem to win. NOT for me though, i swore then i'd never touch them again, and haven't. i'd rather feel crappy about my body and life then be dead because i believed a magic pill could make it all better. Report
Everybody is looking for the quick fix and there is none. Some effort is always required. Report
A combination of the desire for a quick fix + clever marketing. Report
If you can swallow a pill and abdicate responsibility for making good choices about nutrition and exercise, that would be a great fix, right? I understand wanting that quick fix when you have tried and failed so many times, so I don't mean to sound harsh. But it boils down to making one decision at a time. For this moment, I will make a good choice. Succeeding at those choices, one at a time, provides a better high and more results than any pill. Report
People in our society are used to instant gratification. Fast food, drive-through, on-line, everything has to be "right away". Lifestyle change is hard work, so people are looking for short cuts. Too bad there is no magic formula - if there were, we wouldn't have an "obesity crisis". Report
I think it is the quick fix. Report
I prefer to think of it as hope rather than desperation that the product may just work. I think some of them probably do help, but only if you are of the mindset that it is a tool, not a solution. I remember when metabolife came out I used it (mostly because ma huang helped me pull some all-nighters in college), but it did cause mild anxiety. A lot of folks eat more when they are anxious so it sort of negates the appetite suppressing effects. Until they come up with a pill that wires your jaw shut and ties you to a treadmill, I don't think any of them are going to work without user commitment. Report
Definately desperation and a desire for a quick fix. Been there, done that. Report
I think it is desperation coupled with the desire that if it helps you to shake off 2 kgs without much effort, you will be motivated to lose more... so yes, quick fix! Report
Desperation and the desire for a quick fix plus will or won't power isn't always enough. I have tried the protein shakes and I know they work but I like food! Oh for that magic pill. Report
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