Diet pills are not really advisable for teenager since they require all the right nutrients for them to grow and develop into healthier individuals. Diet and weight loss products should never target children and adolescents based on the simple fact that these kids are still developing. Dieting will deprive them of the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need to grow healthy. Unfortunately, the problem is actually not in the lack or insufficient amounts of nutrients but rather the overabundance of calories and the disproportionate portioning of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Kids today are more into greasy, oily, deep-fried fatty foods as well as calorie-rich, super sweet foods. They don’t exercise as well. And the incidence of metabolic problems normally seen among the members of the adult population is now creeping into the younger age group.
The question as to whether diet pills is the answer deserves careful consideration by the parents of these kids. We have always been advocates of healthy dieting and exercise and have only recommended the use of weight loss and diet supplements as adjunct or as an extra regimen to these two fundamental activities. Our stance on the use of diet pills for teenagers to address the problem of obesity remains the same. Diet pills, be it for teenagers or adults, need to be taken as part of a more holistic weight management program that includes diet and exercise. Losing weight the easy way will not give kids the right motivation to keep the weight loss. However, if they worked hard for it, then they will be able to appreciate the value of maintaining an ideal body weight.
The Childhood Obesity Dilemma
As we have already said, the problem today among children and adolescents is not so much that they have nothing to eat. The major problem is more on the unusually large serving sizes, poor food choices, faulty eating habits, and a general lack of physical activity.
- Let’s try to visit some childhood obesity facts to have a much deeper understanding of where we stand.In 2012, more than one out of three American children aged 2 to 19 years old were either overweight or obese
- 1 percent of young children aged 2 to 5 years old are obese while 26.7 percent are overweight
- 18 percent of school aged children aged 6 to 11 years old are obese while 32.6 percent are overweight
- 4 percent of teenagers aged 12 to 19 years old are obese while 33.6 percent are overweight
- The percentage of children aged 6 to 11 years who were obese in 1980 was only 7 percent
- The percentage of teenagers aged 12 to 19 years who were obese in 1980 was only 5 percent
- 42 percent of 6 to 11 year old children have at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day while only 7.8 percent of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 ever reach this physical activity goal
If we are going to look at the statistics, we can say that we are faced with a growing concern. From 1980 to 2012, the percentage of children becoming obese grew from 7% to 18% while obese teenagers grew from 5% to 18.4%. A more troubling finding is the fact that as children grow older, their physical activities also diminish. From the close to 50 percent of all children aged 6 to 11 years old having at least an hour of physical activity to merely 7.8 percent of adolescents, this just goes to show that teenagers today are leading a generally sedentary lifestyle.
Faulty eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle make up the deadly recipe for obesity.
Health experts say that 7 out of 10 of these obese teenagers have at least 1 additional risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases. This is also one of the reasons why it really is not unusual to see young adults as young as 20 or 30 years old already having a heart attack, kidney failure, liver failure, and even stroke. This is not including type 2 diabetes which is also ballooning because of the growing childhood obesity.
Are diet pills the answer? Unfortunately, they are not. However, they may help kickstart the process of more sensible weight loss management programs. Like what we have been espousing, experts recommend the use of FDA-approved diet pills but only in combination with a sensible diet plan plus an easily achievable exercise program. Additionally, it is also crucial for both teenagers and their families to have a turnaround in their lifestyles to help curb the growing threat of obesity.
Orlistat: The Only FDA-Approved Anti-Obesity Agent Specifically for Teenagers
The US Food and Drug Administration does not conduct testing or evaluate the results of clinical studies using a particular product if that product clearly does not have a therapeutic benefit. By definition, a therapeutic benefit is a desired treatment outcome that can be proven or backed by solid evidence. For example, if you say that you have an antipyretic medication, then that particular drug must be able to lower the body temperature and there will be very objective studies to prove such claims.
But how do you prove the effectiveness of a weight loss supplement if it is not actively marketed as a therapeutic agent? Is it because of the very complex nature of testing, validation, and certification that diet pill companies don’t want to go through? Or is it because they know that their products don’t need the backing of the scientific community as long as they can show that some of their ingredients are known to have effects on fat metabolism and weight loss? There are many questions as to why you can see supplements saying they can treat obesity and even fight stress when obviously, they do not have the therapeutic qualification to do so. If companies want to have the bragging rights to call their products as real anti-obesity agents or as fat burners, then they must be willing to subject their products to rigorous testing.
Pharmaceutical companies who are very confident of their products are not afraid to have their products scrutinized by the medical and scientific communities as well as the FDA. One such company is Roche, the maker of orlistat (Xenical), the only anti-obesity agent so far that has been duly evaluated and recommended by the FDA as an anti-obesity agent in teenagers aged 12 to 16 years old. Do take note of the recommended age as this is the only age range whereby the therapeutic effects of Xenical or orlistat have been duly established.
One of the bases for the FDA’s recommendation were a series of randomized, placebo controlled, clinical trials where teenagers aged 12 to 16 years old were either given Xenical or a placebo. All teen participants were also subjected to a reduced calorie diet that contained a maximum of 30 percent calories from fat. For instance, if the teenager required 2,000 calories, the teenager should not consume more than 600 calories from fat which is about equivalent to 66.67 grams of fat. The average weight of the teenagers was about 210 pounds or roughly 95.45 kilograms. One year after the initiation of the study, 27 percent of the teenagers who received orlistat (Xenical) showed at least a 5 percent reduction in their body mass index compared to just 16 percent of teenagers who were on placebo.
There are two things that we can learn from this study:
- A reduced-calorie (reduced calories from fat) alone can provide weight loss in about 16 percent of all teenagers.
- Xenical can enhance the weight loss benefits of a low calorie diet by an additional 11 percent from 16 to 27 percent.
The findings show that sensible dieting can really help and that weight loss pills or diet pills can help improve this benefit. Now, don’t ever think that the 11 percent difference can be obtained by using the diet pill or weight loss supplement alone. Without any significant changes in diet and physical activity, the benefits of these supplements may be minimal at best.
Orlistat has been shown to block the absorption of as much as 30 percent of the fat found in the food that we eat. Now, try to understand that this does not include the fat that is already found in our body stored under our skin and in our bellies. It also does not include the calories from carbohydrates which are also converted into fat if there is simply too much of them. As such, even if you take orlistat but will not change your eating patterns – you will still eat humongous amounts of fatty foods – then the effects will still be negligible.
Now, because orlistat blocks the absorption of about a third of the fat contained in our food, we can thus expect its side effects to be a bit oily or greasy, too. Flatulence or gas with a really smelly oily discharge is common. There will also be increased bowel movement because of the rather slippery consistency of the fecal matter sliding outward from the gut. We can also feel an urgent need to move our bowels or are even unable to control our bowel movements. This is especially true if we take orlistat after having a meal that contains more fat than what is actually recommended.
But it does work. And it only works with a sensible diet and physical exercise. And that’s the bottom line.
Other Diet Pills
Aside from orlistat (Xenical) there are no other diet pill that can lay the claim to be recommended by the FDA. There are other diet pills, nonetheless, but these are either approved for adults or that they are not approved by the FDA at all. You have to be very careful about diet pills that say they contain FDA-approved ingredients. Being approved by the FDA is different from containing FDA-approved ingredients for the simple fact that there is no tests as to how these ingredients will interact with one another.
Here are other diet pills that are marketed for teens.
– Gentech Pharmaceutical markets the Phentabz Teen as the world’s first ever weight loss pill for teenagers. It boasts that it contains FDA-approved ingredients. A review of their ingredients show that it contains octopamine, methylhexaneamine, and trimethylxanthine. Because these ingredients are stimulants, they should be able to boost metabolism. However, because the Phentabz Teen did not subject itself to rigorous clinical testing, there is clearly no way we can ascertain the veracity of their claims. Again, FDA-approved is different from having FDA-approved ingredients. Additionally, their complete list of active ingredients remain undisclosed. A company that doesn’t want its ingredients known cannot really be trusted even if they will say that it is a proprietary blend. Anyone can claim that theirs is a proprietary blend and the law can protect such intellectual property. But if they remain in the shadows, we’d rather recommend you look elsewhere.
Natural Diet/Weight Loss Pills
– These products are not tested by the FDA simply because they are classified as supplements and serve no therapeutic purpose. However, single-ingredient natural weight loss supplements have been shown to be particularly helpful in enhancing the weight loss benefits of physical exercise and diet. Again, our emphasis is on the synergistic relationship between diet, exercise, and these weight loss supplements. You can try the following natural weight loss products, supplements, or extracts.
- Rooibos tea – May help mitigate the effects of cortisol leading to hunger suppression and reduction in fat storage.
- Oolong tea – May help reduce the speed at which dietary calories are converted into fat for storage by affecting the enzyme that facilitates such transformation.
- Green tea – May help in the utilization of fat molecules that have been stored in the body as well as enhancing the liver’s ability to convert these fats into energy.
- Black tea – May help boost the body’s metabolic rate which can help facilitate the faster utilization of fatty acid molecules.
You can check our more information on the best teas for weight loss here.
It should be remembered that the key to using natural weight loss products is to get a single-ingredient product. If it has more than one ingredient, then there must be studies that will show the effectiveness of this particular combination in losing weight.
The Bottom Line
Teenagers should never go on a diet unless they are obese. More importantly, they should not use diet pills that are not approved by the FDA especially if it comes from companies that have very shady practices. If you have an obese teenager, it’s your responsibility to help him or her get the right diet pill.