Despite many slimming pills being taken off the mainstream market they are still flogged over the internet to those with body image problems and low self-esteem.
What's in them?
The diet pills that people will try to flog you can be one of two types:
1. Placebos: drugs that contain nothing of use to you, probably just sugar or chalk etc.
2. Ephedra/ Ma Huang: pills based on the drug Ephedrine, similar to amphetamine. Around three billion of these pills were sold in the US last year. While it is not illegal to possess a small amount of this drug for personal use, you can be prosecuted for selling it in the UK. The drug carries the risk of many serious side effects including vomiting, heart palpitations, insomnia, strokes, kidney failures, miscarriages, and heart attack.
Diet pills can help you to lose weight very quickly, but they should only be used when prescribed by a GP to patients who are clinically obese. The whole treatment should occur under strict medical supervision. Anyone who is overweight but not obese should be told to lose weight by a combination of healthy eating and exercise, perhaps with the aid of a dietician.
A Watchdog Healthcheck programme in January 2002 found that when they sent two young girls who were not overweight to ten private health clinics, only four of the 10 doctors correctly refused to treat them with slimming pills. Worryingly the remaining six doctors gave the girls prescription medicines to help them lose weight. One even gave them an appetite suppressant (Reductil) only intended for people at least three stone overweight.
In August 2002, the Guardian reported that: "Five people have died and almost 500 have fallen ill after taking the dangerous and poorly regulated herbal slimming aids from China, according to reports in recent weeks that have highlighted the fatal consequences of Japan's dieting obsession."
Full story here.
In May 2002 John Daly, the 1995 Open champion, revealed that he suffered a "mini-stroke' as a result of a course of diet pills he had been following. More here.
The history of diet pills
The reason diet pills are not readily available to the masses is that they carry the risk of nasty potential side effects and possible complications. About 30 years ago amphetamine slimming pills were all the rage, but GPs discovered that they weren't as fantastic as first thought, little if any weight was kept off while many of the women taking them became addicted.
More recently sales of appetite suppressants (e.g. dexfenfluramine) have been stopped after research linked it to long-term problems including heart disease.
The current drugs available are only suitable for clinically obese people under medical supervision. They are:
- Xenical: A chemical that prevents the absorption of the fat that you have swallowed. Side effects include diarrhoea, wind, stomach ache, headache, tiredness, irregular periods and anxiety.
- Reductil: This appetite suppressant has been available since the summer of 2001. Side-effects include heart palpitations, raised blood pressure, constipation, nausea, insomnia, and anxiety.
TheSite's final thought:
Unless you are clinically overweight avoid diet pills, they do much more harm than good and you'll be healthier and more gorgeous all round if you stick to the tried and tested method of exercise and a balanced diet.
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