The Dietary Supplement Showdown: Diet Patches or Diet Pills?


In 2017, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) estimates nearly 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese. One in six school children is considered obese. With this growing epidemic, the weight loss industry is booming. [1] In 2014 it generated about $64 billion, and companies that supply programs, nutritional tips, support groups like weight watchers, meal plans like Nutrisystem, earn about 6.3 billion dollars. So where is another large chunk of this money being generated from? [2] ABC News noted a rough estimate that the supplement industry, diet books, diet drugs, and weight loss surgeries bring in another $20 billion per year. [3] However, Nasdaq Global View Research noted the dietary supplements alone earned closer to $26.42 billion. [4]

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There’s a tremendous amount of money to be earned if a person is in the weight loss industry. Approximately 108 Million Americans are on a diet, and of that, about 85% are women consumers. However, 73% of men are overweight compared to the 63% of women in the United States. But programs like Weight Watchers are 90% women. Though it seems strange when looking at the numbers, the primary consumers of the weight loss industry are female. But when it comes to supplements, though most advertisements and marketing seems aimed at women customers, it might in actuality be men who are the ones drifting toward finding a fat burner, or a pill to increase metabolism. [5]

The supplement industry is not going away anytime soon. It’s predicted by 2024 the dietary supplement market size will expand to a monstrous $278 Billion. The supplement industry continues to grow because American’s waist sizes are steadily getting bigger and bigger. But one thing that hasn’t changed is how the Food and Drug Administration regulates the dietary supplement industry.

The supplement companies do a “self-regulation,” meaning they are responsible for evaluating the safety and accurate labeling of their products before sale. The only time the FDA will step in is when a company mislabels or fails to include a “hidden ingredient,” on the packaging. No supplements are FDA approved because the FDA doesn’t approve supplements. It has happened before, where a supplement company has claimed a product is FDA approved, and it was quickly removed because that’s misleading the consumers. [6]

Every year, diet pills are marketed and advertised, and a handful of companies are warned to remove products. And because of the self-regulation process of supplements, when buying a product, there needs to be thorough research by the customer for safety and effectiveness.

With the Diet Industry continuing to grow and expand, there are a few questions that come up. Which weight loss product is the best, and which is better. Diet Pills or Diet Patches? We’ll begin to explore the new supplement on the block first: The Diet Patch.

What are Diet Patches?

With the increasing popularity in the nicotine patch, contraception patch, and birth control patch, it creating an “effective” diet patch was close behind. Transdermal patches are a method of taking a monitored dosage of drugs or herbal supplements that prevent the individual from forgetting. Many people miss pills at certain times or completely forget to take a pill or medication. With a patch, the ingredients seep into the blood stream through the skin. It’s incognito, and the individual cannot forget. Diet Patches, just like diet pills are made with similar ingredients to increase metabolism, suppress appetite and promote fat burn.

Diet patches have been becoming more prevalent in religious practices to help with fasting efforts. A person who is fasting cannot take a diet pill during the day because of religious beliefs, but by using a diet patch, this can assist with hunger pains. It’s controversial on whether this is acceptable or not, but in the recent Ramadan, several articles were written pro-diet patch usage. [7]

Another added benefit of going to the patch instead of using diet pills is the lack of side effects. Many reviews of diet pills have varying side effects; the most common tend to be dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, cramps or dehydration. Some of these side effects are because of the digestive system and the release of chemicals during digestion and then the ingredients being absorbed into the body all at once. With patches, it bypasses the digestive system, and the elements are a little bit more timely as it enters the body. [8]

What Are Diet Pills?

Diet pills are a supplement consumed by the mouth and broken down in the digestive system. The ingredients in the diet pills are very similar to the ingredients in diet patches. Most diet pills contain some thermogenic herbal or natural ingredients to rev up the metabolism, suppress appetite, block fat absorption, and promote fat burn. Diet pills are a viral supplement and are taken once or twice a day to work to the fullest. [9]

However, many diet pills have been debunked by users and reviewers as ineffective for long-term fat loss and improved body composition. Many diet pills do impact weight loss because of an individual losing water weight or burning glycogen storages. However, as far as diet pills affecting fat tissue, it appears no magic pill can help a person’s overall fat percentage. [10]

Diet pills can result in adverse side effects like diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, dehydration, restlessness, lightheadedness, and in extreme cases heart attacks and strokes. For this reason, many people use diet pills for a temporary time, and this adds to Americans on average trying four or five different diets in a year. [3]

Are Diet Patches More Effective Than Diet Pills?


As outlined in the beginning, the supplement industry is a “self-regulated” market and any studies, or reported benefits of patches or pills are put forth by the company. Any supplement company that mislabels or misrepresents their products are then investigated by the Food & Drug Administration. If there is an adverse result because of an ingredient, the FDA might pull that component from allowable ingredients in supplements and provide companies strict procedures to comply when it comes to marketing that product with the banned ingredient. [11]

Diet Patches are the new supplement product to the rapidly growing and expanding the dietary market. However, there are a lot of issues about regulating dosage per patch. There have been a few companies that have had to remove patches because there were significant complaints about the product being a placebo. And when there’s mismarketing from the company the FDA gets involved in protecting the consumers. Then there are other issues of the product being too potent and causing adverse side effects. Again, it becomes dangerous to keep on the market.

The FDA continues to keep a close eye on the new transdermal patches because of the mislabeling and marketing methods of the companies advertising the “all-natural” ingredients in the patches. The mislabeling has grown as more companies are following up with alternatives to oral consumption with patches. The increase has led the FDA to include transdermal diet patches on their website titled, “How To Spot A Health Fraud.” [12]

The counter argument to diet pills is, they have been around longer and have had far more products pulled from the market because of “hidden ingredients,” that caused some severe and catastrophic side effects. Avesil, Best Slim, BeeFit ZXT, Apetrim, and several other diet pills were discontinued because of consumer complaints which led to FDA investigations and final warnings to discontinue the product. However, there are some diet pills which fly under the radar and have helped people lose weight. Like Advocare’s MNS dietary supplement has a strong following of loyal consumers. At this moment, the patch seems to make more of a stir among those who are fasting for religious reasons. People are seeking the diet patch for appetite suppression, whereas customers who are looking for fat burn and weight loss are more attracted to the “reliable” diet pill.

Just remember, no magic pill or patch will lead to significant life changing weight loss. Exercise paired with healthy eating is the best way to lose weight, burn fat, and keep it off long term.

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About the Author Emily Robinson

Emily has spent the last 8 years comparing, reviewing and analyzing ingredients in the supplements industry. She has worked extensively with dieticians, nutritionists and personal trainers to separate fact from fiction and help people achieve their fitness goals. In her free time she works and enjoys the outdoors with her husband and 2 children. You can contact her via the "About Us" page.

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