Kristina Martorano| Lifestyles Editor
We’ve seen the commercials, we’ve heard all the personal testimonies, and we’ve all passed by the billboards with their diet pill ads at some point in our lives. Perhaps you’ve even considered trying one of them. After all, the holidays just ended, and you might have packed on a few pounds. The question is however, do these little miracle pills actually help you lose weight? Will we really lose 25 pounds in two weeks, like that woman in the bikini? The answer is yes, you may, but the side effects of these pills may make you want to reconsider.
One of the biggest problems with over-the-counter diet pills is that they are unregulated. The U.S Food and Drug Administration does not consider these pills to be drugs, therefore they do not review them, and test them. Since the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t review them, there is absolutely no way of knowing how safe the diet pills really are. The Food and Drug administration will not recognize or intervene in the selling of a certain pill unless there have been a large amount of complaints about a certain brand or type of pill. If that is the case the Food and Drug Administration will merely issue a warning, thus leaving it up to the consumer to decide if the pill is worth taking.
Diet pills are also known to create dependency and in some cases extreme addiction. You may think that this seems unlikely, but the truth is that diet pills can create an ongoing psychological problem. For all of those pills which claim you can “lose 30lbs in two weeks” or “lose weight eating whatever you want”, they can create psychological dependency because they promise greater but easy weight loss. The idea that the pounds will just melt away can stop people from focusing on learning to eat well or changing bad eating habits, which ultimately will keep you healthy the rest of your life. Some pills may contain drugs that make you feel fine when you take them, but when you stop, you’ll feel pain or dizziness. These bad effects perpetuate a dependent cycle. Other pills, which are fortunately illegal in the U.S., but can be found in Mexico, Canada, and European countries, contain amphetamines which suppress the appetite and are also known to cause dependency.
Of course as with any medication there are side effects that may occur. Diet pills are no different. Many pills happen to have some pretty severe long term effects. Some of the more common side effects include insomnia, restlessness, headaches, diarrhea, and dry mouth. Due to their chemical make-up, there is a chance that intestinal problems, diarrhea, and cramps can occur after taking pills that promise to block carbs or fat. These effects are minor when compared to the long-term effects of many diet pills. Unlike most pills whose side effects disappear after you stop taking them; diet pills leave damage to you liver and heart. Diet pills that promise to block fat absorption in food actually cause your body to excrete oily yellow globules in your stool, which can lead to problems with your liver. In 2009 there were thirteen reported cases of liver damage from diet pills, several people needed immediate liver transplants and three of those cases resulted in death. However, your liver might not be the only thing affected. Heart problems are also known to occur from diet pill usage. Serious heart-related side effects such as valve disease, pulmonary hypertension, and heart arrhythmias have been reported. Rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and chest pain are also common side-effects. Congestive heart failure, strokes, convulsions, and renal failure can also be linked to the use of diet pills.
So ask yourself if diet pills are really the answer. Sure you may pop a pill and lose ten pounds, but in the end is the immediate satisfaction worth sacrificing your liver, heart and mental health? If losing weight is a must, try doing it the natural and healthy way. Make lifestyle changes that can bring you to your weight loss goal, and keep you at it for life. Exercise a little bit more than you regularly will. I understand that as a college student these are not easy choices to make. It’s so easy for us to stop at McDonalds on the way home, or to sit by a computer all night. Instead of grabbing that burger, go for whole wheat sandwich instead. Even if you only walk 30 minutes a day, you’ll still see some results, and fresh air will keep you feeling happier and calmer. Instant gratification isn’t the answer. Weight loss may take some time, but in the end you’ll feel better knowing you did it the healthy and natural way. Don’t damage your body just so you can lose weight faster.