Weight Loss Drugs: How Much Do Diet Pills Help?

The truth about weight loss medications and supplements.

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

"Clinically proven to help you lose weight without being hungry or working out for hours at the gym!"

You've seen the ads promising successful weight loss by taking diet drugs or weight loss supplements, but do they really deliver results? Could weight loss medications and over-the-counter supplements really help to reverse the obesity epidemic?

Experts who spoke to WebMD agreed that there's no such thing as a quick fix or magic bullet when it comes to losing weight. Weight loss medications (not to be confused with dietary supplements) can help you lose weight, but only if you also cut calories and get moving. And effective weight loss, they say, is slow and gradual -- anywhere from 1/2 to 2 pounds per week, even with the help of diet drugs.

"Weight loss medications can be modestly effective, and enhance weight loss by 8%-10%, but medication does not work for everyone," says Robert Kushner, MD, a professor of medicine at Northwest University.

Kushner estimates that about a third of his patients respond well to medication. But he points out that drug therapy is only one part of a lifestyle that also includes a healthy eating plan, regular exercise, and behavior modification.