Monday, April 30, 2012

Diet Drug Disasters

Kate Moss once said, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."  Anna Nicole Smith used to lounge in cars or pose for paparazzi while promoting Trim Spa.  'Detox' pills and colon cleanse products are lining the shelves and you can never seem to avoid the latest diet pill gimmick.  

So what are a few of the latest drugs are clientele are being inundated with?

Adipex-P Oral (from WebMD): "Phentermine is used along with a doctor-approved, reduced-calorie dietexercise, and behavior change program to help you lose weight. It is used in people who are significantly overweight (obese) and have not been able to lose enough weight with diet and exercise alone. Losing weight and keeping it off can reduce the many health risks that come with obesity, including heart diseasediabeteshigh blood pressure, and a shorter life."  Some of the side effects are depression related withdraw, the usual GI issues (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dry mouth), headache, blurred vision, and seizures.

Qnexa (from WebMD): "Qnexa the only prescription appetite suppressant approved for long-term use available in the U.S. The only other widely marketed prescriptionweight loss drug, orlistat -- sold by prescription as Xenical and over-the-counter as Alli -- works by blocking dietary fat absorption."  Some of the side effects are  increased heart rate, heart attacks and arrhythmias.  It is not recommended for the masses ans long term use is not yet known.  It is not recommended for women of childbearing years as it can cause birth defects. 

The table shows common weight-loss pills and what the research shows about their effectiveness and safety.
ProductClaimEffectivenessSide effects
Alli — OTC version of prescription drug orlistat (Xenical)Decreases absorption of dietary fatEffective; but weight loss is even more modest than that with XenicalLoose stools, oily spotting, frequent or hard-to-control bowel movements; reports of rare, but serious liver injury
Bitter orangeIncreases calories burnedProbably ineffectiveSimilar to ephedra: raised blood pressure and heart rate
ChitosanBlocks absorption of dietary fatProbably ineffectiveUncommon: upset stomach, nausea, gas, increased stool bulk, constipation
ChromiumDecreases appetite and increases calories burnedProbably ineffectiveUncommon: headache, insomnia, irritability, mood changes, cognitive dysfunction
Conjugated linoleic acidReduces body fatPossibly effectiveUpset stomach, nausea, loose stools
Green tea extractDecreases appetite, and increases calorie and fat metabolismInsufficient evidence to evaluateDizziness, insomnia, agitation, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, diarrhea
Guar gumBlocks absorption of dietary fat and increases feeling of fullnessPossibly ineffectiveAbdominal pain, gas, diarrhea
HoodiaDecreases appetiteInsufficient evidence to evaluateInsufficient information available
Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2011; Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 2011

Gina Lesako RD, LD is a Columbus, Ohio based dietitian.  She is the SCAN volunteer blog coordinator and also writes for her own blog, Dietitians Eat Chocolate Too