Obesity Weight Loss Drugs Laxative

Using laxatives as a treatment of obesity is both ineffective and dangerous. Laxative weight loss temporarily reduces body fluid and waste matter, meaning you don’t actually lose body weight as a result of laxative use. Even natural laxatives can cause serious health problems when abused for weight loss purposes, or as a treatment of obesity.

Laxative Use and “Weight Loss”

Laxatives are intended to empty the large bowel, usually as a treatment for constipation. The assumption that laxative weight loss works is completely incorrect. Some people assume that using laxatives somehow flushes food out of the system before it’s absorbed by the digestive system. This myth is widespread, especially among people suffering from eating disorders; laxative abuse usually accompanies bulimia and anorexia.

In truth, the small intestine absorbs nutrients before the laxative even begins to work. Any laxative weight loss is artificial, since the bowel movement excretes electrolytes, indigestible fiber, minerals and water.

Although a scale may suggest weight loss, a person’s body weight doesn’t change at all, and the “lost weight” returns with fluid intake.

Dangers of Laxative Weight Loss

When used to lose weight, laxatives produce significant side effects, including severe dehydration, especially when large amounts are used over a long-term period.

Long-term use of laxatives as a treatment of obesity results in physical dependency, ultimately making it difficult to produce a bowel movement without laxatives. When people cease laxative use, they often experience painful withdrawal symptoms, including bloating, constipation, cramps, fatigue mood swings.

Serious health complications resulting from laxative use for treatment of obesity include:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Damage to the intestines or bowels
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte disturbances
  • ?Heart attack
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Kidney damage.

In some cases, laxative abuse can be fatal.

Ironically, misusing laxatives can also cause water retention and bloating, making the individual appear to gain weight. This encourages a self-perpetuating cycle of laxative abuse to lose the apparent weight gain.

Natural Laxatives and Weight Loss Products

Laxatives are readily available as over-the-counter products. Natural laxatives are also available and often included in weight loss supplements. In addition to weight loss products, natural laxatives are also found in “colon cleansers,” which supposedly improve health by flushing toxins out of the system.

Neither pharmaceutical nor natural laxatives effectively aid weight loss. Any laxative can be abused, and the illusionary gains aren’t worth the very real risks. Before using laxatives as a treatment of obesity, or any other condition, consult with a doctor first.


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Mirror Mirror. (2009). Dangerous methods. Retrieved May 1, 2010 from http://www.mirror-mirror.org/danger.htm.

National Eating Disorders. (2005). Laxative abuse: Some basic facts. Retrieved May 1, 2010, from http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/nedaDir/files/documents/handouts/Laxative.pdf.

Something Fishy. (n.d.). Diet pills, laxatives and dangerous methods. Retrieved May 1, 2010, from http://www.something-fishy.org/dangers/methods.php.