“If it were bad for you, they wouldn’t be allowed to sell it!”
This is how a lot of us justify taking those non-prescription diet pills with the really incredible claims and flashy marketing. The ads and the packaging tell us we can keep eating what we like, forget about exercise, and still lose weight as long as we’re taking the pills. Even though all of it sounds kind of suspicious, it can be really hard to say no when we’re desperate to get slim.
Well, unfortunately, just because something is on the market doesn’t mean it’s safe. When a product makes people sick, the time it takes to remove that item from the shelves could be too long.
With dietary supplements, which is the category diet pills fit under, recalls are ineffective because they are issued only after multiple people get sick from taking them and the FDA has a chance to connect the dots. Then, when the diet pills are finally recalled, manufacturers respond by putting out a slightly reformulated version for sale, oftentimes without even removing the risky ingredients.
One of the most alarming trends in diet pill formulations is the haphazard use of prescription pharmaceuticals. According to two CBS News Reports, researchers put 27 dietary supplements to the test and found that 18 of them contained potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals that are not approved for over-the-counter use including chemicals similar to Steroids, Prozac, and Amphetamines. Many products claim to use only natural plant-based ingredients, yet these completely man-made chemicals are still being detected in the mix. Consumers are being misled about what they are putting into their bodies, and the results can be very dangerous.
As an example, let’s take a look at what’s been going on recently with one dangerous weight loss pill ingredient, sibutramine, which turned up in 6 of those 27 dietary supplements which were tested.
Less than 2 months ago, Bella All Natural recalled their popular “Bella Diet Capsules” because they were found to contain sibutramine. This is a pharmaceutical product that functions as a norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). That means it is chemically similar to antidepressants like Prozac (fluoxetine).
Customers expecting to lose weight ‘naturally,’ which the brand name suggests, could be surprised with unexpected mood changes while using these capsules. For those with pre-existing mental illness, those mood changes could be very dangerous. Also, the drug is known to exacerbate eating disorders, induce mania in those with bipolar disorder, and it can cause a dangerous drug reaction for people already using antidepressants like SSRIs and MAOIs.
While it’s bad enough to serve people a psychoactive medication disguised as a natural supplement, sibutramine has been globally discontinued for 8 years now because of its connection with heart attacks and stroke.
The negative effects of sibutramine are well known, however, its proven efficacy as a weight loss drug makes it very tempting for diet pill manufacturers to lace their products with it. Considering how most compliant weight loss supplements have little to no effect, adding a dash of sibutramine without mentioning it on the label is a great way to sell more products because they’ll “really work!”
The stronger the pills, the more they sell. Recently, in China, 10 people were caught and arrested for selling sibutramine laced diet pills and they were profiting just as much as other illegal drug traffickers!
Bell All Natural isn’t the only company cashing in on dangerous tainted diet pills. In recent years dozens of companies have been caught using Sibutramine by the FDA including Asia Slim, Fruta Planta Life (Garcinia Cambogia Premium), A1 Slim, Physic Candy, Slimming Plus, Platinum Weight Loss Solution, and more; you can check out the full list posted on the FDA’s website.
How do people keep getting away with selling tainted pills?
Weight loss pills do not count as pharmaceutical prescription drugs which require strict animal and human testing for safety and efficacy; instead, they are categorized as dietary supplements which may contain minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and all sorts of other substances derived from animal or botanical sources.
Dietary supplements are NOT required to undergo any safety, purity, or quality testing prior to hitting the market shelves. According to the FDA:
“Under existing law, including the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act passed by Congress in 1994, the FDA can take action to remove products from the market, but the agency must first establish that such products are adulterated (e.g., that the product is unsafe) or misbranded (e.g., that the labeling is false or misleading).”
In other words, the FDA only has the power to remove products AFTER they cause serious harm. The lack of oversight is a major loophole which allows anyone from straight-up scammers to careless, but well-intentioned people to cash in on the tempting multi-billion dollar supplement industry.
If we want safer, more legitimate dietary supplements we need more regulation.
It’s not enough to wait around for people to get strokes, or fall ill to take a supplement off the shelves. We need more information about what we’re putting into our bodies beforehand, and we need the FDA to make sure ingredient labels are honest, with no dangerous drugs like Sibutramine added in secret.
Diet Pills are clearly not the safest way to lose weight, and they’re not even the most effective way either.
Taking a look at the factors causing the excessive weight gain is the first part of any successful weight loss plan. Sure, pretty much all cases of obesity or excess body fat can be attributed to eating too much and moving too little, but the underlying reasons for that are more complex.
Being overweight is rarely just a ‘motivation problem,’ rather, it’s a result of a complex system of beliefs, traumas, mood disorders, and habits we learned in childhood.
At Breathe Life Healing Centers, we specialize in helping people achieve their weight goals by addressing the deeply rooted emotional reasons we overeat and skip the gym rather than enforcing any drastic diets or exercise routines. We focus on creating sustainable weight loss through a program in three parts: Move, Mend +Maintain. While eating right and attuned fitness are important, asking for help to mend inner wounds adds up to lasting change.
Another diet isn’t the ticket, nor is a slim-down-quick pill.