Feb 192002
Authors: Nicole Kucewicz

Many Americans, especially women, strive for that perfect body.

Many products like diet pills are meant to help people lose weight and keep it off, “guaranteed.” Some diet creams even claim rubbing the product on areas of skin can help people lose weight.

These quick fixes claim to help get people into shape. They make it seem as if popping a pill and continuing with a usual lifestyle will help people magically slim down.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it might be.

“If it sounds too good to be true than it is,” said Diane Moeller a registered dietitian at Health Bridge. “If there was a product that really was effective then there would be actual studies and it would be published in a peer review publication that releases factual results.”

Commercials pick extremely fit people to advertise dieting products such as diet pills and diet creams that are supposed to magically remove that excess fat. They lead the public to believe that if they take enough of the product, they can look like the person on the commercial.

But many commercials don’t mention the dangers that these drugs might pose or any long-term side effects. If they did then less people would be willing to purchase them.

“Some of these products contain additives that aren’t on the labels or report amounts that aren’t always accurate,” Moeller said. “For instance, look at the Olympics – there are athletes that are taking supplements that they don’t think contain drugs deemed illegal for their sport, but end up testing positive for them.”

Diet pills can be very dangerous especially if users aren’t absolutely sure what they contain. Many of the products on the market today haven’t been around long enough to see how they will affect people’s bodies in the long-term.

Studies are now showing that ephedrine can cause heart attacks, high blood pressure, nerve damage and strokes. As a result products containing eight or more ounces of this stimulant are getting pulled from shelves across the country. There is also Fen Phen, another diet product that has been pulled because of health risks that it can pose such as heart valve damage.

Unfortunately, many are uneducated when it comes to what these products actually contain. When watching the commercials and seeing the ads for dietary products, some consumers want to get into shape, but don’t think of any risks that might be involved.

“I just don’t really think that they can do any harm, other then make you moody, but I really have never thought about it,” said Kim Bauman UNC student. “I have no idea what they do to you so how can I be afraid of them if I don’t know what they do to you.”

The people on the commercials are toned, tanned and thin, but all of those things don’t result from using a product. It takes working out on a regular basis, eating healthier, eating only when hungry and stopping when full. Try skipping those $.39 extra-large specials at the fast food restaurant and actually enjoy meals rather than scarfing them down while in the car on the way to class or to work.

“Moderation is important,” Moeller said. “Eat in moderation and work out in moderation and be sure to pay attention to your body.”

Food tends to be an escape for people when they are stressed out, sad, depressed or bored and can result in unhealthy eating.

“It is important to find different ways to cope emotionally because food is not going to fill those voids,” Moeller said. “Instead, find an appropriate response and ways of dealing with the issue.”

So, the next time the urge comes along to buy one of those miracle diet plans, pills or creams, walk away and remember that the key to staying healthy while obtaining that ideal figure is to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle and stick to moderation when it comes to food and exercise. These small life-long changes can take the place of any pill or cream. n

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