Getting “sexy” has always been a fad. Society taught us that to be considered beautiful, one must be slim or thin. In fact, the consumerist economy has laid all its products right before our eyes that everywhere we are, we are lured to use these “weight loss supplements” – pills, drinks (in liquid or powder form, herbal teas, coffee, etc) stuff we can easily pop in our mouth our apply on our bodies (creams, lotions, soaps) as we go about our daily lives, while waiting for it to change our bodies.
But before you jump into the bandwagon, know the facts about the weight-loss fad.
Weight loss products or supplements are medically used to treat obesity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), being overweight and obese is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in metres). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight. People with obesity are prone to a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses and cancer.
Last July, 19 year-old beauty pageant contestant Mary Antoniette Acedo from Davao died due to overdose of slimming pills. Acedo took more than the advised dosage of the pills she brought online. Thinking it will hasten the weight loss effects, she took 4 pills a day. She then immediately suffered from severe stomach ache, diarrhea and vomiting. Only slim, svelte women are accepted in beauty pageants. Acedo, who previously joined other pageants, was only 40 kilos before she took the pills but was still pressured to reduce her weight, in the hope that would increase her winning chances.
Acedo is not the only young woman unaware of the adverse effects of slimming products to non-obese persons. In fact, because of its availability in the market (most are sold over the counter in groceries and drug stores) many people have come to think that taking weight loss supplements is just as normal as taking vitamin supplements. We are unaware that these products must be taken with prescription and guidance of doctors.
Though Acedo would not have died if she followed the right dosage, weight loss products pose greater danger than the “positive” results they promise because they are easily abused. Hiding in the guise of seemingly legitimate and non-harmful claims such as “clinically safe and effective”, “speed up metabolism”, these products are marketed in a way that the consumer would be encouraged to buy more so as to increase the efficacy.
Here are other reasons why you should rethink using weight loss products:
- Uncertain efficacy
An over the counter weight loss pill must be able to reduce 5% or more of the patient’s weight to be deemed clinically effective to reduce the risks of diseases linked to obesity, according to online health resource Mayo Clinic. This means that if your weight loss from your prescription drug has not reached 5% despite being coupled with adequate physical activity and better diet, you are just wasting money.
The United States Food and Drug Administration have issued a warning for consumers who fall for the marketing claims of these products promising “miracle weight loss.” FDA also found hundreds of products marketed as dietary supplements but actually contain hidden active ingredients (components that make a medicine effective against a specific illness) contained in prescription drugs, unsafe ingredients in drugs that have been removed from the market, or compounds that have not been adequately studied as safe for use by humans.
- Grand money-making scheme
WHO reports that obesity is one of the world’s neglected public health concern; a social and environmental disease which is now a worldwide epidemic. It was once considered a problem only in high-income countries, but today, overweight and obesity are now dramatically rising in low-and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. In 1995, there were an estimated 200 million obese adults worldwide and another 18 million under-five children classified as overweight. As of 2000, the number of obese adults has increased to over 300 million. The obesity epidemic is not restricted to industrialized societies; in developing countries, it is estimated that over 115 million people suffer from obesity-related problems.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, obesity is largely caused by poor diets; too little physical activity and sleep; unhealthy food choices and toxic environment where access to or food choices and physical activity is limited. But primarily, it is triggered by getting too much calories than what the body burns. All these high-calorie and processed food all around us — from Western fast-food joints, sodas and juices with excessively high sugar content, instant food and canned goods that we grab at the grocery, making it tough to make healthy choices. It is ironic that we are made to believe that for poor people, a can of sardines and a pack of instant noodles is the better choice than steamed indigenous vegetables like okra, talbos ng kamote which are definitely cheaper and free (it can grow in our backyards) and contain much more nutrients without added calories.
To make matters worse, we do not have a lot of safe and conducive areas for physical activities because we are cramped between tall buildings, malls, and infinite vehicles. Simply put, anyone can get obese by eating high calorie and unhealthy food and not burning it.
With these in mind, it is easy to presume that all the fad on weight loss products is just a part of the big money-making web in a capitalist economy that gets its lifeblood from an obese and consumerist-deceived society.
A reminder to everyone – being slim or sexy is not a matter of looking good to please others but being fit (read: physically fit and healthy). For obese people, remember that obesity is primarily a health problem rather than aesthetic concern. How far will you go to lose unwanted weight? The answer is simple and just lies within yourself — go for the best (proven safe and effective) choices. Choose the real thing and get real results by working for it through proper exercise and healthy dietary options.