Reducing weight through healthy eating and vigorous
exercise is cumbersome and time consuming, and let's face it - it does not
always work. So, people resort to the easy methods of losing weight.
But are these methods safe? Are the medical claims
of these weight loss supplements and aids authentic? Are they FDA approved?
Have they gone through the various regulatory tests and processes? Do they help
achieve permanent weight loss? Do they not have severe side effects?
We as consumers need to be aware!
We need to be clear about these supplements and
aids before believing in a weight loss product or process!
Certain approved products, may be supportive or
supplemental to weight loss. But at the end, diet coupled with exercise is the
only way to achieve sustainable and healthy loss. Time and again it has proved to be the ultimate path towards
holistic health. All shortcut methods, most of the times completely beat the
purpose, demotivate an individual and is a waste of the money invested.
Diet pills are agents meant to reduce weight. These
drugs claim to help one lose weight either by:-
• suppressing appetite;
• increasing the metabolic rate (BMR) which
controls the expenditure of fat;
• preventing the body from absorbing specific
• neutralizing digestive enzyme alpha amylase
before it can convert starch into glucose and then fat; and
• reducing cholesterol and converting carbohydrates
Diet pills industry is on the rise worldwide,
despite their numerous side effects and little real evidence. In India there
are several Ayurvedic herbal remedies that claim effective weight loss. They
claim to be all natural with zero side effects. While such claims are appealing
to many people it is important to know that Very few products seem to meet all
legal requirements. Also such diet aids are not permanent cures
and are always recommended with controlled diet and vigorous exercise.
Though some of the ingredients in ayurvedic or
allopathic products do speed up metabolism or control hunger as they claim, the
effects are tiny. They also take a long time to show results. With such
slimming products one can expect to lose about half a kilo in a month. On the
contrary, with good diet and exercise one may lose upto 2 to 4 kg in a month.
Dr Sujeet Jha, head of endocrinology, obesity and
diabetes at Max Healthcare in Delhi, says, "Certain anti-obesity pills like
sibutramine act on the brain to reduce appetite, thereby leading to weight
loss". It was removed from the market because it caused
heart problems and strokes.
Orlistat is the only weight loss medication
approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. It works by blocking certain
enzymes and preventing the body from absorbing fat. According to drugs.com, gastrointestinal symptoms
such as flatulence with discharge, oily stool, fecal urgency and fecal
incontinence are the most commonly observed side effects of orlistat (Xenical).
Further, side effects such as fever, chills, back pain and mild skin rash may
Michael Levy, director of the US Food and Drug
Administration's (FDA's) Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance says
that most weight loss products don't
live up to their claims. Even
worse, they could cause serious harm. Dozens of products being touted as
dietary supplements actually contain hidden prescription drugs or compounds
that have not been adequately studied in humans.
has made it a priority to seek out these dangerous products, stop them from
being imported, and take legal action against firms that manufacture and
distribute them. The FDA needs consumers to be aware of these dangerous
products and to learn how to identify them.
Consumers should look for warning signs of
tainted products, given by FDA. They are:-
• promises of quick action, such as "lose 10
pounds in one week"
• use of the words
"guaranteed" or "scientific breakthrough"
• labeled or marketed in a
• marketed through mass
• marketed as an herbal
alternative to an FDA-approved drug or as having effects similar to
If one is using or considering using any product
marketed as a dietary /weight loss supplement, FDA suggests the following:
• Ask your health care professional
for help distinguishing between reliable and questionable information.
• ask yourself if it
sounds too good to be true
• Be cautious if the
claims for the product seem exaggerated or unrealistic.
• Watch out for extreme
claims such as "quick and effective" or "totally safe."
Make sure you don't fall for fraudulent claims.
Be an informed customer!
Which? Right choice, April 2011