The temptation to lose weight quickly is often difficult to ignore, especially when pills and potions promising the perfect bod in record time are easily available over the counter at your local pharmacy. But, according to the Mayo Clinic in the US, diet aids are not subject to the same levels of research as prescription medicine, so they can be marketed by the producers without valid proof of their effectiveness or safety. According to Cape Town dietician Maya Snijders-Naumann, only two diet pills are recognised as medically safe and effective. ‘Xenical reduces fat absorption and Reductil reduces appetite, but both require a doctor’s prescription and neither of these pills have long-term benefits.’ The only real solution to a weight problem, says Snijders-Naumann, is to learn how to change your lifestyle.
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
These ingredients are found in a number of diet drugs on the market in South Africa and can cause the following reactions in the body:
EPHEDRINE AND EPINEPHRINE Can cause nausea and vomiting, irregular heartbeat, palpitations and insomnia.
BITTER ORANGE EXTRACT OR ZHI SHI This is marketed as an alternative to epinephrine, but may cause similar health problems and the long-term effects are not known.
COUNTRY MALLOW (HEARTLEAF) contains ephedra or Ma Huang; this is the plant that produces the herbal equivalent of ephedrine, which was banned by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
GREEN TEA EXTRACT may contain large amounts of caffeine and can cause bloating and indigestion.