Thursday, December 30, 2010

To Diet Pill or Not To Diet Pill

For years, women especially have been looking for a quick fix to lose weight. It doesn't help that pharmaceutical companies blow up the airwaves on television hawking their wares, promising super-fast weight loss. "Lose 10 pounds in ten days!" They promise so much but most people are on to their scams. Most of us know that there is no magic pill, no dieting panacea that will help us shed pounds without strict diet and exercise. Still, millions of people each year buy into the drug companies' false hope, praying that this time the pills/shakes/bars will really work.

What most people don't know is that there are often very harmful side effects to weight loss drugs.

First of all, these "supplements" are usually unregulated and largely untested. They are marketed as herbal supplements because the Food and Drug Administration does not verify the ingredients of these "miracle" pills. There could be anything in those pills.

Secondly, some of the herbal products can have interactions with prescription drugs.

These drugs usually contain some type of caffeine-like substance that raises blood pressure and heart rate. Unfortunately, a lot of people who take these drugs are already suffering from blood pressure problems, and the pills exacerbate the situation. This can cause severe blood pressure highs which can lead to stroke or heart attack, organ failure and even death.

And, as gross as it sounds, a lot of people use laxatives to lose weight, reasoning that the pills eliminate waste sooner and therefore less digestion and caloric intake is possible. In reality, most of the weight loss is water, not consumed food and you still retain almost all of the calories you've consumed. Long term laxative abuse can lead to organ damage, dehydration and death.

So, what do we do? A lot of us will fall for the next great celebrity hawked diet pill. It may or may not cause us severe problems.

What we need to be doing is seeing nutritionists and our medical doctors to undertake lifestyle changes instead of jumping on the next trend.

Remember folks, while curvy is beautiful, it isn't always healthy.

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