What are appetite suppressants?

Appetite suppressants are a type of weight-loss medication (diet pill). They affect the brain’s urge to eat. Diet pills can control hunger pangs or make you feel full faster on less food. As a result, you take in fewer calories and lose weight.

How effective are appetite suppressants?

On average, people who combine prescription appetite suppressants with healthy lifestyle changes (a nutritious diet and exercise) lose 3% to 9% of their starting weight within 12 months.

Who should use appetite suppressants?

Your healthcare provider may prescribe an appetite suppressant if you have:

What are the types of appetite suppressants?

There are prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) appetite suppressants. One weight-loss drug, orlistat (Alli®), works by blocking fat absorption (it’s not an appetite suppressant). Check with your healthcare provider before using OTC diet pills. Some OTC appetite suppressants may interact with medications or cause health problems.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved these prescription appetite suppressants:

  • Diethylpropion (Tenuate dospan®).
  • Liraglutide (Saxenda®).
  • Naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave®).
  • Phendimetrazine (Prelu-2®).
  • Phentermine (Pro-Fast®).
  • Phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia®).

How long should you take appetite suppressants?

The FDA has approved some prescription appetite suppressants for short-term use of 12 weeks or less. If you lose weight and don’t have side effects, you may be able to take certain prescription medications indefinitely with your healthcare provider’s approval.

What are the benefits of using appetite suppressants?

For some people, appetite suppressants jumpstart weight loss. Diet pills can help you change the way you eat and learn to recognize cues that signal when you’re full.

What are the risks of using appetite suppressants?

Rarely, appetite suppressants cause liver damage. Call your healthcare provider if you notice signs of liver disease, such as jaundice (yellow skin or eyes). More common side effects include:

Who should not take appetite suppressants?

Appetite suppressants can interact with medications, including antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. They also worsen certain health conditions. The medications aren’t safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. You shouldn’t take appetite suppressants if you have:

Does insurance cover appetite suppressants?

Check with your health insurer. Some providers cover prescription weight-loss medications that treat obesity.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Appetite suppressants can curb hunger and help kickstart your weight-loss efforts. Your healthcare provider can help you find the best weight-loss medication or treatment plan for your unique needs. The effects of appetite suppressants stop once you quit taking them. That’s why it’s important to also eat a healthy diet and move more. These lifestyle modifications are critical to ongoing weight-loss success.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/25/2020.


  • American Academy of Family Physicians. Prescription Weight-Loss Medicines. (https://familydoctor.org/prescription-weight-loss-medicines/) Accessed 9/28/2020.
  • National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Overweight and Obesity. (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/overweight-and-obesity) Accessed 9/28/2020.
  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Prescription Medications to Treat Overweight and Obesity. (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/prescription-medications-treat-overweight-obesity) Accessed 9/28/2020.

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