The Lies of the Diet Industry
The website is basic and the lies unconvincing. But the testimonial telling of a yoyo dieter who could now share how she finally succeeded in losing weight, may convince some.
The endorsement is accompanied by a photograph of its author, with a before and after picture.
Within ten days, it says, she had lost 10lb, after two months she had shed a whopping 28lb.
But is this website telling the full story about the effects of the pills they are selling?
Many women know of the dangers when it comes to diet pills but still choose to ignore the warnings. And with the diet industry worth a reported 45 billion, it would seem some people will still try anything to shed the pounds.
Sarah Keogh, a Consultant Dietitian at the Albany Clinic in Dublin. (www.eatwell.ie) advises that you should try conventional dieting methods before pills.
“It is tempting to buy pills online to avoid paying the doctors fee but you are putting your health at risk,” she warns.
“If you are going to use prescription medicines always see your doctor. There is a reason medications are only available on prescription. They may interact with a medical condition or cause potential problems that need to be monitored.”
Reductil is one such product which was banned from use inBritainin January 2010 after it was blamed for increasing patients chances of suffering a heart attack or a stroke.
Websites selling it claim Reductil, “Will reduce your cravings for high calorie carbohydrates.”
“Your brain triggers you to crave carbohydrates because carbohydrates boost levels of serotonin in the brain,” the website boasts.
A brief scan on the internet reveals otherwise as people flock to forums to complain of their bad experiences.
One dieter claimed the Reductil gave her “palpitations, hot sweats, major headaches and a racing pulse” which saw her doctor order her to stop taking them straight away.
“Please don’t be fooled by these, they will just make you ill,” was her plea.
Another contributor claimed: “I’ve lost 7 lb in a week, which is fantastic, but I feel terrible. I can’t sleep, I’ve got a funny taste in my mouth, feel constantly sick and have got a horrific headache.”
Sarah Keogh says that the claims on the websites selling these drugs may be misleading and in some cases out and out lies.
“There are strict rules about what companies can and can’t say about their products but these don’t apply to products sold online from other countries so consumers can be misled,” she says. “You need to read what is said very carefully. A lot of the ‘fat burning’ effects of diet pills are only seen in test tubes. People also need to be careful as some of the weight loss pills you can buy on the internet have banned ingredients that may be harmful.”
An example of a young woman who paid with her life at the hands of the diet industry was the case of Brazilian fashion model Ana Carolina Reston. The 21 year old model starved herself to death in 2006 with the aid of diet pills.
At the time of her death, Reston weighed just 40kg (88lbs) at a height of 5ft 8.
But you’re not only gambling with your life, short term side effects of these pills can include mood swings, chest pains, tremors and an irregular heart beat and an overdose can lead to hallucinations, seizures, severe headaches and blurred vision. And some pills such as Orlistat or Xenical, were in 2006, linked to colon cancer.
“There can be dangers from banned ingredients from pills bought online as this is an area that is harder to regulate,” says Sarah. “Some ingredients used in diet pills bought online have been linked to deaths in the US. The ingredients may not always be listed on the pack so you need to be very cautious,” she adds.
So can we trust a diet pill if it is bought over the counter or prescribed to us by a doctor?
“Most of the diet pills you can buy over the counter are unlikely to cause problems as it is an area that is strictly regulated,” says Sarah.
“How effective these pills are in helping you to lose weight is another question – all of them require you to follow a reduced calorie diet or healthy eating plan.”
Sarah also has some tips for those who might feel that the weight game is a losing battle.
“The key things are: smaller portions – use a smaller plate and reduce snacking in between meals,” she advises. “Keep a food diary to see how often you snack and also why. Finding the reason for your snacking, especially at night, can help you find ways to avoid it.”