Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Are You Trying to Lose Weight?

So you want to lose weight—and you want to be well. These should be compatible goals, but consider the method—and beware.

On December 22, 2008, the FDA warned consumers not to purchase or consume 28 different over-the-counter supplements and products being sold for weight loss. Since that time, FDA analysis has identified 41 more tainted weight loss products that may put consumers’ health at significant risk, bringing the total to 69 products.

According to the FDA press release, prescription drugs were found in these dietary supplements, some at levels that far exceeded their maximum recommended dosages. The health risks posed by these products can be serious; for example, sibutramine, which was found in many of the products, can cause high blood pressure, seizures, tachycardia, palpitations, heart attack or stroke. This drug can also interact with other medications that patients may be taking and increase their risks for adverse drug events.

The FDA’s information site for consumers has more detailed information on the amounts of these prescription drugs that the FDA found, the serious side effects that have been reported and provides a list of people who are at special risk.

According to the FDA report, consumers should be familiar with the following signs of health fraud:

  • Promises of an "easy" fix.
  • Claims such as "scientific breakthrough," "miraculous cure," "secret ingredient," and "ancient remedy."
  • Impressive-sounding terms, such as "hunger stimulation point" and "thermogenesis" for a weight loss product.
  • Claims that the product is safe because it is "natural."
  • Undocumented case histories or personal testimonials by consumers or doctors claiming amazing results.
  • Promises of no-risk, money-back guarantees.

As we point out through LoneStart's individual and workplace programs--there are no easy "fixes" and there are no magic pills. It comes down to knowing how to making healthier choices, both in terms of nutrition and activity. It comes down to each of us taking responsibility for our health and long-term wellness. And it comes down to each of us making it happen.

Do you disagree?

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