The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new weight loss drug. Qsymia is the latest drug to give people the hope that a pill might be the answer to obesity.


Eight years ago, I did something that was against my better judgment. I went to my doctor and asked for a prescription for a diet pill. I have always struggled with my weight, and I’ve made it no secret on this blog that I still do.


The drug I went on was Meridia, which was later linked to 14 deaths. (Source: WebMD). The FDA considered banning the drug two years ago, but were split with an 8-8 decision. After the FDA’s non-decision, Abbott, the company that makes Meridia, voluntarily pulled the drug from U.S. markets. It had already been banned in Europe.


What was my experience with Meridia? Fortunately, I didn’t suffer any health problems from taking the drug. I lost weight for the first three months — about 25 pounds altogether. And then, my body adjusted to the drug and I stopped losing weight. I maintained the weight loss for another three months while I continued to take the drug. When I realized that the chances of losing any more weight on the drug were slim, I stopped taking it. Although I wasn’t feeling any negative affects from the drug, I was concerned about the long-term effects.


One of the reasons that I was smart enough to be concerned (yet desperate enough to push those concerns aside) was that in the 1990s, we owned stock in the company that made the weight loss drug commonly known as Fen-Phen when that drug was pulled after causing fatalities. At the time, I normally wouldn’t have taken notice that a drug was being pulled off the market, but the fallout from Fen-Phen caused our stock to plummet, and that certainly got my attention.


So, even after being aware of the life-threatening problems with one diet pill, I asked my doctor to let me take a different one. When you’re overweight, and you feel like you fail at a new diet just about every week, a miracle pill can start to sound very attractive.


I have no idea about the safety of this new drug, Qsymia. It may be that it’s the miracle drug everyone has been hoping for. Or it could be another diet drug that’s pulled off the market several years from now after several people suffer negative health effects from its continued use.


But I do know this: for most people, changing from an unhealthy diet to a healthy one, reducing the amount of calories taken in, and moving your body more (sometimes a lot more), will produce the same weight loss results as a diet pill without the scary side effects that diet pills can have. In fact, one of the scariest side effects from many diet pills has been cardiovascular problems, and a healthy diet with plenty of exercise will actually increase cardiovascular health in most people.


I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I still struggle with my weight. I’ve been working with a personal trainer for the past three months, and I’ve recommitted to healthier eating. I’ve dropped 20 pounds and lost more than 17 inches so far. Will this be the attempt that is successful and sticks? I don’t know. I’d be fooling myself if I said, “Absolutely, this time I’ve got it down.” I’ve been here too many times before.


Even if this attempt gets waylaid, and I have to start all over again sometime in the future, I doubt I’ll ever take a diet drug again. And, I’d like to encourage anyone who is considering taking any type of diet drug to think long and hard before popping your first pill.


It’s not the only option. It’s probably not even a great option. Is it an easy option? Maybe at first it is, but eating whole, healthy, non-processed foods in moderation and exercising is a better option for most people.


It’s definitely a better option for me.


Do you have any experience with a diet drug? Care to share you story in the comments section?


Disclaimer: I am not a health professional, and anything said in this post about how to lose weight is my opinion, not professional advice. If you are considering losing weight, please talk to a qualified professional about the best way to do it for you.


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Do you need a diet drug?
Before you ask your doctor for a prescription to the new weight loss drug Qsymia — or any weight loss drug — consider our food blogger's experience.