Marisa Scott Prentice is a 31-year-old kindergarten teacher in Orlando, Florida. Two years ago, and at 5’5”, she was tilting the scales at 250 lbs. “It was excruciating, and going to school was a nightmare. Children can be unwittingly cruel about people they perceive as being out of the ordinary, and questions about how fat I was were regulation,” she says. More importantly, her physician warned her about potentially fatal consequences if she didn’t do something about her weight, soon. In desperation, Marisa turned to weight loss diet pills, which she saw as the quickest route to a slimmer her. What followed was “catastrophic”, in her words.
Over a period of six months, Marisa’s blood pressure shot up, and she also developed insomnia. “I would be prowling through the house at night, because I couldn’t sleep and would be feeling too restless to do anything else. And it was particularly terrible because thanks to the diet pills, my appetite was suppressed so I couldn’t take comfort in a midnight snack as I used to do earlier,” she says. This in turn led to acute depression, threatening Marisa’s four-year marriage with high school sweetheart Gerry.
Today, Marisa is off diet pills completely, though she still has some way to go before she attains her ideal weight of around 125 lbs, but she is sticking to morning and evening walks and a balanced diet that she swears work far better than the pills used to. “I’m down to around 170 lbs, and though my weight appears to have currently reached a plateau, my fitness consultant assures me it’s a matter of time before it stars to go downhill again,” she says.
The debate for…
Considering the horror story I’ve just told you, it would be tempting to assume that weight loss diet pills are the poison of Satan that no one should go near, forget take into their systems. Not really, you know. There are several benefits of diet pills that we need to know about if we are to make a fair analysis.
For starters, weight loss diet pills speed up your metabolism, which means you burn greater quantities of fat. Many diet pills contain ingredients such as green tea extracts and lipoic acid, which promote weight loss. And diet pills are also a great way to cut down on between-meals snacks, because they contain appetite suppressants that make you less hungry. Says consultant nutritionist Shari Matthews, “It is a myth that people who take diet pills actually starve. Appetite suppressants are basically substances that enable you to eat less, which means you eat enough to stay healthy, but not in excess of your needs.”
Diet pills also help you limit the amount of calories that enter your body, which means you stand less risk of gaining excess weight.
In general, stimulants carry a risk of high blood pressure, faster heart rate, palpitations, closed-angle glaucoma, drug addiction, restlessness, agitation, and insomnia.
…And the debate against
The biggest problem with diet pills is that we simply do not know enough about them to be sure of their efficacy. As is obvious, they have definite side effects. In fact, because diet pills affect or change certain fundamental processes of the body, they are supposed to be prescribed only in cases when obesity can be potentially fatal, as was the case with Shari. Obviously, they may not affect every individual in an identical way, so what works for one may not do so for another.
And while certain diet pills can be prescribed, there are the over-the-counter (OTC) pills that you may buy without a prescription, so the risk of side effects is ever present. Indeed, the OTC weight loss diet pills sector is among the fastest growing pharmaceutical segments in the United States. At a conservative estimate, Americans spend between $50-70 million on weight loss diet pills and allied products. Which unscrupulous businessman worth his fake dollars can ignore that kind of money? So the result is that Americans end up spending up to $10 billion on diet pills that could be less than genuine.
In any case, OTC diet pills are mostly classified as food supplements rather than medicinal substances, and are therefore not as strictly regulated as prescription diet pills. Federal rules do not require OTC diet pills to be extensively tested, nor are they subject to the same advertising and labeling guidelines as prescription diet pills. In the opinion of industry observers, this needs to change, because they feel many OTC diet weight loss pills are actually eligible to be labeled anti-obesity drugs.
From their point of view, the clinching argument is that many OTC weight loss diet pills contain ingredients with powerful amphetamines, which may induce side effects that could even be fatal, but they criticize the fact that there is no compulsory reporting procedures for these products. Says Dr Fenton La Rocca, who has been prescribing anti-obesity drugs for nearly 20 years, “OTC diet pills are an unknown quantity, because we just can’t be sure of their composition unless we subject them to exhaustive tests.”
Are prescription diet pills the answer?
It would be nice to be able to say yes, but the truth is that prescription diet pills – common examples of which include brands like Meridia (Sibutramine), Xenical (Orlistat), Adipex, Bontril, Didrex, Tenuate, and Phentermine – are liable to cause problematic side effects too. Take Orlistat, which limits the body’s capacity to absorb dietary fats, and which may result in oily spotting bowel movements, oily stools, mild or acute stomachache, and flatulence.
So the problem persists. At the end of it all, it may be a better idea to extensively consult your physician before you commence taking any diet pills, particularly OTC pills. They may represent an easy way to lose weight, but they also make demands of your body that it may be unable to fulfill. Before you start using weight loss diet pills, it is as well to know that they may affect your heart, brain, liver, and intestines, and you need to be aware of the extent of the damage that they can cause. Shari Matthews recommends that you get all OTC weight loss diet pills privately tested and discuss the results with a trained expert before you use them. As she says, “When it comes to regulating something as fundamental as your appetite, you can’t be too careful.”