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Weight loss side roads: Diet Pills

Published:Monday | April 18, 2016 | 12:00 AMJody-Anne Lawrence

For many persons, getting to their ideal weight is a major struggle.

Sometimes problem areas can be stubborn and we take some detours from the traditional diet and exercise. We are exposed to so many new fads - from pills to shakes - that promise to help us achieve our goals. Over the next few weeks, Flair will be exploring some of these 'alternative' weight-loss routes, investigating the pros and cons to establish whether these are the right choices for you.

One commonly employed method of weight loss are diet pills. Wendy Swaby* decided that she would take a weight-loss tablet after being encouraged by a friend who told her it would boost her weight loss.

Swaby's previous weight-loss journey had been a struggle, with her losing weight only to pack it back on a few weeks later. The tablet was supposed to be her

saviour, and at first it was.

"The dosage was three pills per day and all I had to do was eat healthier. The pill ejects oil and grease from the body. I had been doing it for a week and already saw results. I was careful with what I ate - no fatty food, no junk food, just fruits and vegetables and water," she told Flair.

But when the craving for a piece of fried chicken came, it was more than she could bear.

"I went to work one day and the need for fried chicken was so great. I bought a small lunch and thoroughly enjoyed it. A few minutes later, I felt something wet at the back of my clothes, the oil and grease from the chicken was leaking out of my body! I was in the restroom for a while," she recalled.

It was not a pleasant experience, and not one that she wanted to relive. That was the last time she used that weight-loss pill.

According to Dr Garth Rattray, in some cases, weight-loss pills do help individuals to lose weight.

However, some might have users going back to stage one once they decide to stop

taking them.


"Others help by reducing the amount of fat absorbed from the diet. In that way, they reduce the total calories taken in for the day, but these may cause bloating, griping and, possibly, diarrhoea. The weight loss achieved with these pills are less dramatic, but usually safer unless the patient has a problem with their liver function or is on medication that requires normal fat absorption from the bowel," notes Dr Rattray.

These pills are generally used as a starter or boost to an individual who is starting the weight-loss journey. For persons who are significantly overweight, this is a plus.

The pills, however, have their fair share of side effects.

"All weight-loss pills might have side effects but, more important, because of their method of action, some may not be safe for some persons. For instance, if someone is hypertensive and (or) has problems with a rapid heart rate (or palpitations), he or she must avoid most weight-loss pills because many suppress the appetite and increase the basal metabolic rate because they contain a chemical compound that mimics the fight or flight hormone, which will elevate your blood pressure and heart rate," Dr Rattray said.

He also cautioned persons not to take weight-loss pills for an extended period of time.