When diet drugs actually make you gain weight

FDA Approves 5 New Diet Drugs That Have Serious Side Effects
When people have tried (and failed) to slim down, they might ask their doctor about one of the four weight-loss drugs approved by the FDA. These treatments, available by prescription or over the counter, work by suppressing appetite and boosting metabolism. But now it turns out that some of them might actually cause people to gain weight, the Washington Post's Wonkblog reports.

Doctors have long believed that people don't understand how weight-loss drugs work — that is, they don't get that they still have to eat well and exercise in order to see results. Recent research published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing found that people are indeed deluding themselves: They eat more unhealthy food after simply seeing advertisements for weight-loss pills.(The company behind the drug Alli, for example, tried to raise awareness that the pill can help you shed more pounds as part of a healthier lifestyle, but that it's not a miracle drug.)

Amit Bhattacharjee, Ph.D., assistant professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, told Wonkblog that the phenomenon of people gaining weight while taking diet drugs may not be because the pills don't work. Bhattacharjee, who researches consumer behavior, co-authored the study, which found that being exposed to marketing messages for diet pills changed people's eating decisions — and not for the better.

Photo: PhotoAlto/Laurence Mouton/Getty Images

For the study, Bhattacharjee and his colleagues divided 138 participants into three groups: people who saw a message telling them that avoiding fatty foods is the only way to live a healthy lifestyle, others who saw that message followed by ads for an FDA-approved weight-loss drug that claimed to absorb up to 60 percent of the fat in food, and a third group who heard about a treatment that did the same thing, but it was referred to as a natural herbal supplement, not a drug. (Neither formula actually exists.)

Next, each person was given a bowl of 30 small cookies and were told they could eat as many as they wanted. Half got cookies labeled low fat and the rest were given cookies described as "delicious and indulgent." Participants in the group told to ditch fatty foods ate an average of 14 "indulgent" cookies, while people in the drug group ate more cookies (17) and those in the supplement group ate fewer (11). Yes, the researchers only studied marketing messages, but they argue that such unhealthy "adjustments" could be even more profound when drugs are prescribed. "In general, the misunderstanding is that if you take this drug you can lose weight without exerting effort elsewhere to help reduce the risk of gaining weight," Bhattacharjee told Wonkblog. Though supplements are a different story, he said. "There's this notion, I think, that drugs are more targeted or precise, that they do the work for you," he said. "I don't think that's the case for supplements."

If you want to lose weight with or without diet drugs, heed the advice of noted wise person Britney Spears: You better work, bitch.

The bizarre thing that happens when people take diet drugs

Click through for great diets that work with every budget:
Best Diets for Every Budget
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When diet drugs actually make you gain weight
Named U.S. News and World Report's best overall diet for four years in a row, this diet is definitely worth investigating. The DASH Diet integrates whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables, low- or non-fat dairy and fish or poultry, while limiting high-fat foods, salt and red meat. While fresh fruits and vegetable will cost you, cutting most red meat from you diet will make this diet wallet-friendly.
While the Paleo diet (eating like our ancestors did) isn't usually thought to be a low-price option, there are some simple ways you can do it on the cheap. Paleo Diet Lifestyle recommends buying products like olive oil in bulk, choosing cheap cuts and buying bone-in meats and buying whole or canned fish.
Traditional Mediterranean diets are proven to be incredible for your health! Even better, according to LearnVest, if you choose an inexpensive olive oil and stay away from the pricier varieties of products like tuna steak and chardonnay, you can expect to keep your bill within reason.
People often report feeling better, mentally and physically, after giving up gluten. This diet can be affordable if you follow one rule: eat foods that are naturally free of gluten. Products made specifically for gluten-free diets are often pricey. Opt for frozen or in-season fruits and veggies to keep produce prices low.
LearnVest calls the vegan diet "a steal" if done smartly. Be sure to cook for yourself rather than buy expensive prepared vegan cuisine. You can also find tofu for just half the price of ground beef per pound.

The Atkins diet helps dieters lose weight by cutting carbs from their diets. To make this protein-rich diet budget-friendly, try underrated cuts such as chuck and sirloin, always buy whole chickens and experiment with pork.

This government-endorsed diet centers around lowering cholesterol and begins with setting calorie goals. These calorie levels and limits on dietary cholesterol should curb overeating and help keep you within your budget. Cutting fatty meats can also help your bill.
The flexitarian diet closely resembles a vegetarian diet, but when a craving for meat strikes, they indulge. Flexitarians not only weigh 15 percent less than carnivores, but they also save money by spending less on pricey meat.
Number nine on U.S. News and World Report's best overall diets, the Ornish diet focuses on the overarching way you eat, exercise and live rather than on the specifics of your diet. Since the diet is so individualized, most of the time, it can work with any budget. Still, planning ahead and buying in bulk can keep costs down.
This trusted diet can help you shed between 6 and 10 pounds in two weeks and 1 to 2 pounds each week after until you reach your goal. The diet concept is split into two concepts, "Lose It" and "Live It." Dieters are discouraged from dining out during the "Lose It" stage and encouraged to cook at home, keeping your wallet happy.

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