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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reporting For people trying to lose weight, it looks like there's no free lunch. In fact, there's no free lunch, breakfast or dinner.
In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, dieters who believe diet pills alone will help them shed pounds are in for a bad case of indigestion.
Researchers followed patients taking Meridia, a prescription diet pill. They found patients who lost the most weight also followed a low calorie diet and included daily exercise.
Use of Meridia was most effective when the patients recorded exactly what they ate. Medical guidelines for prescription diet pills recommend obese patients change their habits to exercise more and eat healthier. But they often do not.
So, the bottom line is, if you're going to accept the risks of these medications as well as the cost, why not get the full benefit? And that means the hard work of diet and exercise.
How safe are these drugs? There are two prescription diet pills on the market. One is Meridia, the other is Xenical. Overall they are safe when used as indicated. But they can have side effects, including a higher blood pressure and heart rate in some patients taking Meridia, and possible gastrointestinal distress with those using Xenical.