Weight Loss Pills written by Matt Lamprecht
Losing weight can be challenging, as well as very confusing. People want to lose that extra ten or so pounds to fit into that bikini at the neighborhood pool. The problem is that everyone does not want to wait almost a year to take off the pounds. People today want to lose weight to look good, as well as to prevent health issues. Having extra weight is tied with an increase in mortality and illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, hypertension, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and some types of cancer (Freedman p.24-27). People wanting to lose weight and become healthier, is a step in the right direction, but the truth is that people are not doing this the right way. The majority of people are not reducing their caloric intake and increasing their level of activity.
Our media is flooded with different ways to lose weight quickly through the use of items such as Dexatrim, HCG drops, Hydroxycut, and Orlistat. Interestingly enough, every diet pill is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the exception of Orlistat. FDA approval of these drugs has not been given because of the fact that they can be very harmful to the body. Diet pills are a quick way to lose weight and some do work; however, are they really all that safe to introduce into the human body? The truth is, no these pills are not worth the trouble. The FDA is not approving them for a reason; they are dangerous. Orlistat, even though deemed safe by the FDA, has a warning on the label, that it can cause severe liver damage. Of all the diet pills out on the market, the ones that do work still are ineffective at providing permanent weight loss. Appetite suppressants, metabolism boosters, hormone “therapy,” and fat blockers are all types of diet pills and work differently on the body to help you lose weight.
Appetite suppressants sound great-no more overeating, control cravings, but the key ingredient in a well known diet supplement Dexatrim is phenyl-propanolamine (PPA). Phenylpropanolamine works in the body to reduce congestion by constricting blood vessels in the body (“Drugs.com”). This ingredient has been linked to increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke, which is bleeding into the brain or the surrounding tissue, in women (“Drugs.com”), high blood pressure, and an irregular heart rhythm (Dee 18-21). There are a few dangerous side effects of phenylpropanolamine as well such as allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, closing of the throat, and swelling of the lips, tongue, and face, or hives), seizures, and unusual behaviors or hallucinations, as well as several less serious ones (“Drugs.com”). The reason pills such as Dexatrim use this ingredient is because it affects the hypothalamus, which is a control center in the brain that tells the brain to give off hunger signals (Deuchler). Phenylpropanolamine interferes with the hypothalamus effectively giving off these signals, making this ingredient an appetite suppressant. In fact, appetite suppressants are not recommended for people unless they are obese, and should not be taken unless recommended and supervised by a doctor. Other appetite suppressants such as fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were removed from the market because they were linked to heart valve disease and primary pulmonary hypertension (“Drugs.com”).
There are dietary supplements out there that will boost what our bodies do naturally. Every second of the day we are burning calories, making energy for every cell in our body. This process is called metabolism. As food enters the mouth and travels down to the stomach, the digestive system kicks on. After the food is churned and chopped up in the stomach, it moves to the small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed. The body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins as energy for the cells of the body, even when doing activities like lying down or watching television. The more activity being done, the more energy the cells need, and the energy stored within the fat cells of the body are used, decreasing a person’s weight. One of the most popular diet pills out there that is known for metabolism boosting is Hydroxycut. Hydroxycut uses the ingredient ephedra, which stimulates the nervous system causing heart rate and blood pressure increase and to constrict blood vessels. The heart is nothing more than a muscle that contracts and relaxes; energy is needed for this contraction process to occur. When the heart rate increases, more calories are needed to fuel this contraction (“Weight Watchers”). Ephedra, however, has been banned by the FDA because of the negative side effects. The serious side effect of Ephedra was hypertension, then palpitations or tachycardia or both, and in the worst cases, ends in stroke and seizures, some of which resulted in disability or death (Snow). According to the FDA, Hydroxycut has been linked to serious liver problems, as well as cardiovascular problems (Young). The liver damage experienced was rare, but it occurred in those taking the recommended dosage on the product label (Young).
Human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, is a hormone made by the placenta during pregnancy and can be used to test for pregnancy. This hormone can be used therapeutically to help women get pregnant as well as increase the chances of multiple children (Seiler, and Levitt). This hormone has many different medical uses and is FDA approved, but not for weight loss (Seiler, and Levitt). The HCG hormone has been used in the past for dieting, then it disappeared for a while. The HCG diet developed by Dr. A.T.W. Siemons, has resurfaced. This diet requires you to survive on 500 calories a day, while the recommended dietary amount for adults is no less than 1,200, and for a person not on a diet is an average of 2,000 calories. Simeons studied a group of pregnant women in India as well as young overweight boys with pituitary problems, both taking this hormone. He noticed that both lost fat, but retained their muscle mass. From the results, he theorized that this hormone stimulates the hypothalamus, which causes loss of fat tissue instead of lean muscle tissue. The FDA states that this hormone used for weight loss is both dangerous and ineffective (Seiler, and Levitt). In fact this hormone is linked to a condition known as thyrotoxicosis, which is an excess of thyroid hormones in the blood, which can cause symptoms such as: rapid heartbeat, sweating, anxiety, and tremor (“Free Dictionary”).
A major appeal that has been around for a few years, survived recalls, and the FDA is a dietary supplement that blocks the absorption of fat. This ingredient is known as Orlistat, found in two medications, the over-the-counter medication Alli, and the prescription medication Xenical. Orlistat works in the body by binding to lipase, the enzyme which breaks down fat, so that less is absorbed by the small intestine. This sounds great, but the potential side effects can be embarrassing and slightly dangerous. By not sticking to the low fat portion of the diet, some of the more embarrassing side effects will occur: oily spotting on underwear/clothing, gas with oily spotting, urgent need to have a bowel movement, loose stools, oily/fatty stools, increased bowel movements, pain or discomfort in the rectum, and stomach pain (pub med). The more severe side effects are: hives, rash, itching, difficulty breathing or swallowing, severe or continuous stomach pain, excessive tiredness or weakness, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain in the upper right part of the stomach, yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark-colored urine, and light-colored stools (Pub Med Health). The symptoms consisting of yellowing of the skin or eyes have just recently been added this year because in rare cases there have been reports of liver damage (“Alli”). Another issue with Orlistat, though not immediately life threatening, is the fact that since the absorption of fat is reduced, so is the absorption of all of the fat soluble vitamins and minerals, and a multi-vitamin is recommended to be taken every night.
Diet pills, are they really all that great? Truth is, no. Something that can be done naturally but slowly is much healthier than putting your body under cardiovascular stress and at an increased risk for liver failure. The Majority of the diet pills say that a lifestyle change is required in order to keep the weight off, but with a pill that can suppress appetite, boost metabolism, or block fat. The problem is that people are not actually changing their lifestyle. The reason that this happens is that people cannot see what these pills are doing to their body until it is too late, with the exception of Orlistat in a way. Those on Orlistat quickly learn to live without fat on the pill, or they may just find themselves in a very embarrassing situation. Over time they can even lose their taste for high fatty foods. Reducing caloric intake and increasing physical activity, something which every dietary supplement will say, is the only true way to lose weight. Forget taking in five hundred calories per day, unnaturally boosting your metabolism, and suppressing your appetite, it is not worth the risk. All that is needed to lose weight is a good attitude, and most importantly a lifestyle change.
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