Whilst not all weight loss aids are particularly harmful, in fact most are not, they’re not designed to be used by teenagers. Even the safer options often contain large amounts of caffeine or other stimulants that developing youngsters probably shouldn’t be using. If that was the main issue however, things wouldn’t be quite so concerning. The larger issue is with the abuse of laxatives and diuretics which several influencers have been promoting as a “budget ozempic” alternative, which is a prescription weight loss aid. Needless to say this is not only not accurate, but not healthy for growing bodies.
A recent meta analysis that covered a total of more than 600,000 teens found that almost 10% had used unprescribed weight loss aids.
The study found that 2% of the teenage population used weight loss aid in the last week, 6% in the last year and 9% in their life.
The Risks of Using Weight Loss Aids as a Teenager
Ultimately the risks are going to be dependent on what the person in question uses, for example excess caffeine intake in teens risks anxiety, sleep disruption, but more concerningly can affect bone development. And abusing laxatives can result in chronic bowel issues, colon damage, and worsened constipation. This is of course more of an issue for teenagers.
But, then there’s also more risky ingredients like Garcinia cambogia, touted as a weight-loss supplement, isn't adverse effects include digestive problems, liver issues, and interactions with medications.
There is also the issue that it does seem to be linked to an increased risk of eating disorders and weight gain in later life. However, there is an argument that these issues are correlation rather than a causation issue.
And there has also been a link between substance use and use of none prescription weight loss aids, although again, it’s quite possible that the self esteem issues that often lead people to take these products rather than the products fuelling these issues.
What Else Did the Teenagers and Weight Loss Aids Study Show?
The study found that diet pills were the most common method used by teenagers to lose weight, followed by laxatives and diuretics. Girls were found to be much more likely to use these products with almost 10% using them in the last year alone.
The majority of the studies were of course from North America, which isn’t likely to be all too surprising.
Are There Any Weight Loss Aids Safe For Teenagers?
Realistically Glucomannan is probably the best over the counter option. As it is simply a prebiotic fiber that expands in the stomach when it mixes with water, creating an artificial feeling of fullness. As such taking some about 30 minutes before eating with a large glass of water can prevent over eating, it is also available in a noodle form known as zero calorie noodles.