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Weight Loss Supplements — Dangerous Solutions

» Written by // January 21, 2010 // , ,

According to World Health Organization (WHO) there are one billion overweight adults worldwide and 300 million are categorized as obese. The World Health Organization cited several contributing factors among which are:

“increased consumption of energy-dense foods high in saturated fats and sugars, and reduced physical activity, Economic growth, modernization, urbanization and globalization of food markets are just some of the forces thought to underlie the epidemic.“

The mounting scientific and statistical evidence related to obesity illustrates a number of associated health risks of epidemic proportions. The many complications of morbidity is a head on collision with our current health care crisis.

WHO lists among the adverse effects of obesity including:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • high triglyceride
  • insulin resistance
  • respiratory difficulties
  • chronic musculoskeletal problems
  • skin problems
  • infertility
  • type II diabetes

Of particular concern are certain types of cancers, especially of the breast, colon, prostate, endometroium, and kidney and gallbladder The likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes and hypertension rises steeply with increasing body fat ratio. Of the patients with diabetes, approximately 85% have type II diabetes, and of that group, 90% are obese or overweight.

For both good and bad, obesity has generated a bevy of talk shows, reality shows and even magazines dedicated to informing the public about healthy diet and exercise. As a result, many in the population of obese adults and teens have reacted by trying to shed the pounds and avoid or minimize the significant health risks associated with obesity. Some of these efforts are healthy; using carefully planned exercise and healthy diet. Unfortunately, some have desperately resorted to extreme diets and damaging exercise regimes. Others have chosen to try self medicating with over the counter supplements.

Where there is a demand there is a supply and the largely unregulated Dietary Supplement Industry has been more than eager to churn out  a variety of “over the counter” (OTC) weight loss supplements. Many of these products claim miraculous results in unbelievable time periods.

With so many uninsured the numbers that rely on over the counter medications have skyrocketed. The manufacturers have marketed products to a fearfully vulnerable public as “hope in a bottle” promising guaranteed fast results in place of learning improved diet habits and a regimen of regular exercise.

According to the Mayo Clinic “dietary supplements and weight-loss aids aren’t subject to the same rigorous standards as are prescription drugs or medications sold over-the-counter and can be marketed with limited proof of effectiveness or safety. “ In fact, most supplements are a concoction of up to 20 ingredients some of which may not even be listed on the label. Because these products are not regulated by the FDA health claims are based on the manufacturers review and interpretation of studies.

Although in the last year the FDA has attempted to “warn” the public about many of these products; because they are marketed as dietary supplements, the FDA is not capable of testing them for safety. The FDA makes efforts to engage in enforcement actions to the marketing of weight loss products on the market that have potentially harmful contaminants.  Unfortunately, the FDA’s ability to “police” the significant number of unapproved products is limited and represents only a small fraction of the potentially hazardous weight loss products marketed to consumers on the internet and at some retail establishments.

Currently the only FDA-approved drugs for weight loss on the market: Meridia (sibutramine), Xenical (orlistat), and a low-dose over the counter version of Orlistat ,Alli.

Public Citizen’s has now filed a second petition, to ban Meridia, citing a ”significantly increased number of heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrests or deaths in obese patients getting the drug” have argued that the drug should be pulled from the market immediately.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, stated that, “if the FDA truly intends to operate as a public health agency, then it should acknowledge that the continued approval of this drug cannot be justified based on science. The FDA should therefore tell Abbott to pull Meridia from the market immediately.”

The FDA has posted a comprehensive list of Dietary Supplements that are tainted. This list includes only a fraction of all possible dangerous compounds and can be accessed here.

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