The Real Answer to the Weight Loss Supplement Scam

An article titled “Are Diet Pills the Answer to Weight Loss Struggles?” was recently posted in the Harvard Medical School Adviser.  This article posted a question about weight-loss pills; “Do they work? Are they safe?”

The answer given was that advertising claims such as “Exercise in a bottle” are, “for the most part” too good to be true.  Well, I have one comment and that is Shame on the Harvard Medical School Adviser for trying to come off as so objective that it cannot even render a definite opinion on this clear-cut subject.

The article explains that claims on nutrient and herbal products are not required to be verified by the FDA.  The FDA can, and has in some extreme cases, removed these products from sale; an example is the ban on the sale of Ephedra in 2004 after several deaths. Unfortunately, there are numerous other ephedra-like supplements that are playing off the frustration that so many people have with the commonly available, traditional, strict diet plans.  People that are desperate to lose weight often seem willing to blow large amounts of money on just about anything that promises a quick-and-easy solution to their problem.

Even after the ban on ephedra, these ephedra-like compounds such as ephedrine, norephedrine and methylephedrine, are available on the Internet and in stores, as are supplements containing caffeine and caffeine-like compounds such as guarana, yerba mate and others.  These compounds are highly concentrated and are, in my opinion, drugs. None of these drugs has ever been truly tested for effectiveness and the claims made are simply ridiculous.  Not only that, but there are potential adverse health consequences for taking these ineffective drugs that have never been identified.

So, why are these drugs allowed to be sold?  The standard answer is because there is an FDA loophole that allows herbal remedies that don’t claim to cure medical conditions to be sold.  The real answer is that these drugs are Big Business!  This is a $200,000,000.00 (that’s 200 Million Dollars) per year market in America alone.  Bottom line, the snake oil salesmen are alive and well in America; in fact they are richer than ever before.

It’s time that legitimate medical professionals start to confront these frauds in terms that are appropriate.  Identify them for what they are, scams that waste your money and provide false hope and may, in fact, hurt people in the end.  Rather than stating that “people should be cautious about using” these drugs, as is stated in the article, the medical community should state unequivocally that these drugs have never been shown to have any benefit whatsoever, and in fact may be quite dangerous and until their safety and efficacy has been shown, people should never take these supplements, under any circumstances, period.

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