Include your doctor in your weight-loss plans

If you're considering trying weight-loss pills, be sure to talk with your doctor, especially if you have health problems or take prescription drugs. Your doctor can provide support and advice on losing weight and can monitor your progress. Just as important, your doctor can talk with you about possible side effects and what to watch out for.

In addition, your doctor can help determine if weight-loss pills are likely to interact with any prescription drugs you take. Many weight-loss pills contain multiple ingredients, such as herbs, botanicals, vitamins, minerals, and even caffeine or laxatives. If you take prescription drugs — or herbal or dietary supplements — adding weight-loss pills to the mix can be tricky.

Despite the hype, no quick fixes

The makers of weight-loss pills would like you to believe that their products will miraculously solve your weight problems. But keep in mind that even if you take a weight-loss pill, you still have to eat fewer calories than your body uses in order to lose weight. And even if these products help you lose weight initially, you will probably have to keep taking them to keep the weight off, which may not be practical or safe.

The reality is that there's no magic bullet for losing weight. The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is through lifestyle changes: Eat healthy, low-calorie foods, watch portion sizes and be physically active. It's not magic, but it works.

Feb. 11, 2012 See more In-depth