Danger of weight loss pills

It is a natural and common human trait to seek instant relief for any affliction and ailment. The realm of weight management is no exception. And it is common for pharmaceutical companies to play upon this human weakness.

The history of trends in weight control is replete with instances of magic bullet offerings in the form of weight reducing pills.

Alas! As I have said so often, nothing comes without a price. In our craze for ridding ourselves of unwanted fat, we ignore the very real and often potent dangers of the side effects of these pills.

The most recent instance of this is related to the drug rimonabant, which had to be pulled out of India — and other countries — because it induces suicidal tendencies in its users.

The drug was developed on basis of the fact that bio-active substances from cannabis (cannabinoids) stimulate appetite and therefore if the cannabinoid receptors are blocked off, a reduction of appetite will occur. It did work as expected, but as a trade off, it left the users feeling low and depressed.

What is the current situation vis-à-vis pills?

As of now, there are only two drugs approved by the FDA in the US for long-term use — which means not over two years. The safety and effectiveness of these beyond the two year period has not yet been established. I would like to advise those contemplating the use of these drugs to do so only if their Body Mass Index (BMI) exceeds 30. Potential users who need to reduce weight for medical conditions like altered lipids, hypertension and diabetes may do so if their BMI exceeds 27.

Last week I had discussed the Lipase inhibitor drug or the fat squirting drug — Orlistat. This drug is considered safe and effective because the longest study ever — of four years — on weight loss medications has been conducted on Orlistat.

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