What You Need To Know About Ozempic, The Diabetes Drug Fueling Hollywood’s Harmful Weight-Loss Obsession

Photographed by Jeff Harris, Vogue, October 2005

Oh, oh, oh, Ozempic,” croon the voices in an oft-aired commercial for the Type 2 diabetes drug, Ozempic by Novo Nordisk. The jingle is sung to the tune of “Magic” by the 1970s band Pilot—which is fitting: With its reported ability to cause rapid weight loss as a side effect to blood-sugar management, the drug has been hailed as a miracle treatment by those in the know.

“Patients consider it a wonder drug,” says New York dermatologic surgeon Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, who, like many doctors, is being asked about it with a dizzying frequency. “Other than Viagra and Botox, I’ve seen no other medication so quickly become part of modern culture’s social vernacular.”

That’s not an understatement. The term “post-Ozempic body” is trending and is increasingly batted around in social media and IRL as speculation swirls following any high-profile—and highly visible—weight loss. Last month Elon Musk credited Wegovy, a similar drug, as one of the reasons for his more svelte appearance (fasting was the other)

Andy Cohen tweeted about #Ozempic in September, a hashtag that has clocked over 274 million views on TikTok; and it’s been widely suggested that Kim Kardashian relied on the drug for dramatic weight loss in pursuit of fitting into Marilyn Monroe’s famous wiggle dress at this year’s Met Gala. Whether celebrities admit to using it (or not), Google searches for Ozempic are also on the rise, signaling an insatiable desire to learn more about its sudden slimming effects.

With thinness currently dominating the fashion landscape again (some would argue that it never really went away), it’s a reminder of how easily weight can be influenced by the trend cycle. But the fact that many people are willing to subject themselves to regular injections and potentially uncomfortable side effects in the name of fitting into a narrow body standard is troubling, to say the least.

“I worry about the body distortion, dysmorphia, and the example we are setting for young women already so vulnerable to the unrealistically filtered versions of beauty,” says LA-based cosmetic dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD. Nancy Rahnama, MD, a board-certified internist and obesity-medicine specialist in private practice in Beverly Hills, agrees:

Celebrities using, or rather abusing, these weight-loss drugs—not for health reasons but simply to achieve their ideal figure—is deeply problematic in its amplification of weight-loss culture, says Dr. Rahnama. As diminutive waistlines become conflated with health, what, exactly, is this now perpetually name-checked class of drugs, and who should—and, perhaps more importantly, shouldn’t—be taking them?

 What is Ozempic?

A semaglutide, which is the active ingredient in Ozempic, belongs to a class of medications called GLP-1 agonists. These compounds replicate a hormone we all make in our intestines that is released after we start eating. “Semaglutide increases insulin release in response to glucose intake and causes a minor delay in gastric emptying,” says Ariana Chao, MD, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and medical director of the school’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders.

“It also acts in areas of the brain involved in regulating appetite and food intake. The medication also makes your body more sensitive to the insulin that you produce on your own, adds Holly Lofton, MD, a clinical associate professor in the departments of surgery and medicine and director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Health.

“By doing that,” explains Dr. Lofton, “it helps your body’s fat cells shrink over time.” Novo Nordisk produces both the semaglutide Ozempic and Wegovy, which, while approved for two different purposes, are in fact similar. “Semaglutide 1 mg (Ozempic) is a once-weekly injection FDA approved to treat diabetes since 2017.

A higher 2 mg dose was approved in early 2022,” says W. Scott Butsch, MD, MSc, director of obesity medicine in the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at Cleveland Clinic. “Wegovy is a higher dose of weekly semaglutide (2.4 mg) that was approved for the treatment of obesity in July 2021…

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Source: What You Need to Know About Ozempic, the Diabetes Drug Fueling Hollywood’s Harmful Weight-Loss Obsession | Vogue

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Diet Culture: Will We Ever Stop Obsessing About Our Weight?

Blame evolution on our obsession with our weight.Credit:United Press International Photo

It’s a secret shame that countless women feel, but only rarely admit to. “Am I betraying my feminist self by believing I don’t look good in clothes until I lose weight?” a girlfriend texted me a few weeks ago, after agonizing about the fact that she is now a few kilos heavier than she usually is. “I feel like shit about this. I would die if I had a girl and she said that to me.”I feel the same. My friend only told me this (I’m fairly certain) because I’d previously confided in her my own squirmy thoughts about my weight.

Like the shame I feel about having wasted years tallying how much dessert I’ll let myself have or how I feel about myself according to how tight my jeans’ waistband is on any given day. How is this possible, I’ve long wondered, when I’m intelligent enough to know that my culture has brainwashed me into wanting to look thin? And when I know that spending that time on literally anything else would enrich my life, instead of mentally strangling it?

“It’s super common … and a huge part of the difficulty that some people can have psychologically because they feel it’s mutually exclusive,” says Melbourne-based clinical psychologist Stephanie Tan-Kristanto, who has helped many people work through these feelings. “[They think] ‘I must be really terrible, or a bad person because I’m having these thoughts, and I shouldn’t be having these thoughts because I’m too intelligent to be worrying about body image issues’.”

It is an under-acknowledged water-dripping discomfort that many women – and to a lesser extent, men – experience. Because while the destructive nature of eating disorders has long been studied, the embarrassment and shame that come from an unshakeable desire to have a smaller body – when it isn’t accompanied by disordered eating, obsessive exercising, an inability to focus on vocational studies or career, or other signs of a clinical disorder – has not.

If anything, these feelings are getting harder to battle, says Tan-Kristanto, as an increasing amount of celebrities are giving us the expectation that 50 or 60-year-olds can still look, respectively, 30 and 40.And the impact can be significant, and lifelong.

“I think it’s really bad for one’s self-esteem because I’m constantly saying to myself, ‘I’m not good enough, my body’s not good enough, my legs are too big, my stomach’s too flabby’,” says one friend of mine, a 47-year-old entrepreneur and mother of two who has been fighting these feelings for the last 35 years (since she was 12 and her parents told her she was “chubby”). Though she’s long been a healthy weight, and enjoys a wide variety of activities including surfing and dancing, she says: “I can see the amount of time I’ve wasted in my life dieting, and thinking about food so much and counting calories.”

They’re feelings Tan-Kristanto hears a lot from patients, particularly those who present with depression and anxiety. “The shame is a feeling that you are defective,” she says. But there’s a reason so many of us have these feelings: evolution.

“Our brains are hard-wired to be Velcro for negatives and Teflon for positives, so we’re naturally our own biggest critics, regardless of how intelligent or educated we are in many ways,” says Tan-Kristanto, a director of the Australian Clinical Psychology Association. “Our survival and ability to continue living and thriving as a species requires us to be more aware of the dangers in our life. So we need to look for the threats in our life to be able to survive and reproduce.”

In “caveman days” the risk was a sabre-tooth tiger. In modern times, it’s anything that can threaten our ability to fit in, get our next job and find a great partner.

“And all of those things are absolutely related to our weight, and humans being a social species, you know our survival and our thriving is in many ways related to how well we fit in cultures. Obviously the expectations of how we look or what we weigh varies across different cultures and different time periods. But it’s still a universal thing that our appearance and our weight is associated with society accepting us, and fitting into cultures.”

I’d always assumed this is something I’d inevitably age out of, especially once I hit my 60s or 70s.Turns out, not necessarily. “She was in her 80s,” says one woman I know, of a woman she knew who was in debilitating pain. It had become so bad that this elderly woman could barely walk. There was a remedy. A particular medication that would alleviate her pain and give her back the use of her legs. No dice. “It came with a possible two-kilo weight gain,” says the woman I know, explaining why the woman in her 80s rejected the treatment, citing her appearance.

Intense fear of gaining weight is just one indication, says Tan-Kristanto, that a person has moved away from a “somewhat helpful” focus on being healthy to “mal adaptive” behaviours that require psychological intervention. Others include: extreme dissatisfaction with body image, “really low self-esteem”, feeling depressed as a result of appearance, avoiding social situations that involve food, repetitive dieting, skipping meals or fasting and exercising even when injured.

As for the rest of us? We need to do our best to drop our shame. “You can be really intelligent and educated, and understanding of the pressures that society puts on you, and you can still struggle sometimes with body image,” says Tan-Kristanto. Accepting this, she says, frees us up to focus on other parts of our life.

“It helps us to be a little more understanding and compassionate, so we’re not fighting things as much, and not being as stuck or fused with those thoughts. It helps us to look at the bigger picture of things.” So does fighting the stigma of our feelings, by sharing them with friends. “I wouldn’t underestimate the value of [having a friend] say, ‘Thank god, it’s not just me’.”

Samantha Selinger-Morris

 

By: Samantha Selinger-Morris

Source: Diet culture: Will we ever stop obsessing about our weight?

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What Is Seed Cycling? Experts Weigh In On Eating Seeds For Fertility, Hormone Balance

If you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ve likely come across the practice of seed cycling, which involves eating specific seeds in the hopes of boosting fertility.

Of course, the irresistibly salty crunch of sunflower or pumpkin seeds makes them great snacks. But could those seeds actually do more for your health or even help balance hormone levels?

While seeds may be nutritious and tasty, experts are skeptical that seed cycling can produce real results. Here’s what you should know before you try it — and why you might want to go slow when adding seeds to your diet.

What is seed cycling?

The basic premise of seed cycling is that eating certain types of ground seeds (pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds) every day at different points in your menstrual cycle can affect hormone levels. And seed cycling proponents claim the practice may increase fertility and ease PMS symptoms.

“The theory — emphasis on the word theory — of seed cycling is that compounds called lignans can stimulate estrogen activity,” Whitney Linsenmeyer, a registered dietitian, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and assistant professor at Saint Louis University, told TODAY.

Lignans are a set of compounds found in seeds (especially flax seeds) that can have anti-inflammatory properties, TODAY explained previously. And there is some limited research, like this 2011 study in mice, that suggests lignans can interact with estrogen and even produce estrogen-like effects.

Other components in seeds, primarily fatty acids, “can serve as precursors to steroid hormones, potentially, or could impact inflammation,” Dr. Emily Jungheim, chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Northwestern Medicine, told TODAY.

It’s “possible” that eating more fatty acids could affect hormone levels and “create a more favorable environment for hormone signaling,” she said. There are few studies suggesting that eating sesame seeds and flax seeds can affect hormone levels in women.

But there are no randomized controlled trials on seed cycling specifically, Jungheim said. And infertility is more likely to be caused by other underlying health issues that can’t be solved with seeds, she added.

Does seed cycling improve fertility?

“The general idea that nutrition can impact your fertility is absolutely valid,” said Linsenmeyer, who is also an assistant professor at Saint Louis University. And there is some evidence that certain dietary factors (like unsaturated fats, whole grains, fish and vegetables) as well as being underweight or having obesity can make a difference.

“But there is no evidence that this specific practice — seed cycling — can impact fertility in any clinically significant way,” she said. “In terms of actually making a clinically significant impact on hormonal levels, there’s just no science there to support that,” Linsenmeyer said.

The truth is, “if somebody’s struggling with infertility, usually there’s some major thing that needs to be addressed,” Jungheim said. It might be that someone isn’t ovulating, that there’s an underlying health condition (like thyroid disease) making it more challenging to get pregnant or that their partner’s sperm count is too low, for instance.

But, if issues like those are causing fertility problems, eating a bunch of seeds isn’t likely to help. “There’s nothing I can think of physiologically or scientifically that would make it biologically feasible that eating a specific type of seed in one portion of the cycle would make you ovulate,” Jungheim said.

There may be other benefits to eating seeds, of course

“Seeds are very nutritious,” Linsenmeyer said. “So, the bottom line is yes — if you want to incorporate more seeds in your diet, go for it.” They can be a great source of fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, she said.

But if you’re adding a lot of seeds to your diet at once, you may experience some gastrointestinal changes as your body adjusts to having more fiber. “Frankly, I would expect to see changes in bowel movements that might be just, like, startling to people,” Linsenmeyer said. “The insoluble fiber content adds a lot of bulk to the stool.”

You might also notice yourself feeling fuller sooner or not feeling as hungry when it comes time for your next meal due to the high fat content in seeds, she said.

All of that is why Linsenmeyer recommends people who are interested in adding more seeds to their diet do so gradually over the course of a week or two — and be sure to drink plenty of water.

Before you try seed cycling to boost fertility…

First, remember that it can take a while to get pregnant — and that is generally normal. “If you’re younger than 35, we generally recommend trying for a year,” Jungheim said, noting that over-the-counter ovulation prediction kits make it easier to know when you’re most fertile. For those over 35, she recommends checking in after six months.

But if you’re not having periods for three months in a row, that’s a sign that you may not be ovulating normally, Jungheim said, and you should talk with your doctor. Or, if you know you have a history of fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS or other issues that can affect fertility, it makes sense to check in with your doctor earlier on in the process, she said.

“I would encourage folks to get at least a diagnostic workup before turning to seed cycling,” Jungheim said. While treatments are not always covered by insurance, those initial tests usually are, she added. Early testing can screen for underlying (generally treatable) issues, like thyroid disease, and your diagnosis may be delayed if you’re spending time with seed cycling instead of talking to your doctor.

And recognize that there may also be emotional costs to pinning your hopes on something like seed cycling, Linsenmeyer added. “To me, the risk is getting somebody’s hopes up when there is no science to support the practice.”

Source: What Is Seed Cycling? Experts Weigh In On Eating Seeds For Fertility, Hormone Balance

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A New Generation of Weight Loss Drugs Makes Bold Promises, But Who Really Wins

In the months after having her second child, Sarah found herself fed up. The 40-year-old Seattle resident was cutting carbs and sugar, and exercising regularly, but couldn’t seem to shed the pounds she had put on during pregnancy. So when an email newsletter mentioned a new weight-loss drug called Wegovy, Sarah decided to give it a try. Eight months later, she is out more than $10,000—and down more than 60 lbs.

“Wegovy made losing weight almost effortless,” Sarah, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, told Quartz. “I’m not hungry often anymore and it doesn’t take any willpower to eat less. I simply don’t have any desire to overeat.”

Sarah is one of 125,000 US-based patients now taking Wegovy (whose generic name is semaglutide), a member of a new class of weight-loss drugs. These drugs work differently than the appetite suppressants popular among previous generations of dieters. They are also hitting the market at a different moment: one in which people are more eager than ever for realistic, science-based methods for addressing excess weight, even as a growing faction of activists and doctors voice skepticism of weight as an accurate measure of health.

A new class of weight-loss drug

In the mid-1990s, experiments on Gila monster venom found it contained hormones that could help lower blood sugar. That led to the diabetes drug Ozempic, which ultimately went on the market in 2018. People on that drug discovered a funny side effect: They lost weight.

In 2021, that same compound was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the name Wegovy for the express purpose of weight loss. Drugs like Wegovy work in more complex ways than simply suppressing appetite, and promise fewer (though not zero) side effects.

Like Wegovy, many of these drugs were originally approved for other conditions; liraglutide (brand name Saxenda for weight loss) was also originally approved as a diabetes drug (Victoza). In fact, semaglutide and liraglutide work similarly in the body: They’re known as GLP-1 receptor agonists because they activate receptors for the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormone, reducing appetite by slowing digestion and the rate at which the body takes up glucose.

Perhaps most important, the new drug promise significant weight loss. “The previous weight loss drugs were just modestly effective,” says John Buse, an endocrinologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The average patient would lose 5% of their body weight, in some cases up to 8%. But with semaglutide, he says, “we’ve gotten the kind of weight loss that makes people pay attention: 10-15% of body weight. That’s the average weight loss—half of people are losing more than that. It’s a gamechanger in the conversation…now that we have medicines for which a substantial proportion of patients can expect to lose 30 to 50 lbs.”

In one 68-week pre-approval clinical trial, patients on Wegovy did indeed lose 14.9% of their body weight on average, compared with 2.4% for people on a placebo. (Although, as several writers and scholars have pointed out, the study was funded by Novo Nordisk, which makes Wegovy.) Given the average weight of trial participants—100 kg, or 220 lbs.—that meant weight loss of about 15 kg, or 33 lbs. Other drugs in development have had similar results. In a recent trial for one called tirzepatide from Eli Lilly, more than half of patients lost at least 20% of their body weight—50 lbs. in many cases.

What it takes to lose weight

This new class of drugs is entering a market that at first glance seems ripe for breakthrough. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42% of Americans—70 million people—meet the criteria for obesity (having a BMI of 30 or more). At one point or another, most of those people will try a diet and exercise regimen to lose weight.

But a growing body of research shows that diets are not an effective way to lose weight and keep it off. “Obesity is a complex disease… ​for most people, lifestyle modifications, diet, and exercise are just not enough,” says Katherine Saunders, a doctor at the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and co-founder of Intellihealth, an app-based platform that brings evidence-based obesity treatment to patients.

In part because of that complexity, bariatric surgery has since 2009 been considered the standard of care for patients looking to lose a substantial amount of weight. But these procedures can be invasive and expensive, and can come with significant and long-lasting complications.

The dearth of other options leaves some patients and doctors excited about this new generation of drugs. “Right now, the field is really looking for more efficacy, number one. People will do almost anything to lose weight,” says Buse. “We have more than just surgery now for promoting substantial weight loss. The most exciting thing is that obesity is on the ropes.”

A complicated picture

While hopes are high, the realities of taking these drugs can be more complicated for patients. There are often side effects—the most common for semaglutide and liraglutide are diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. On Wegovy, Sarah says she’s experienced diarrhea so severe that a few times she had to delay her next dose.

Physicians can sometimes gloss over or downplay those effects. But a visit to dedicated Reddit pages for these drugs shows whole communities of patients struggling to adhere to the regimen when they’re feeling sick, and seeking support from a community to understand whether what seems like a severe reaction is normal. (Novo Nordisk did not respond to a request for comment.)

How well a patient can tolerate a drug “is something we think about quite a lot,” Saunders says. “We always start with lower doses and increase gradually as tolerated. Everyone is different. We keep in close touch with the patient and monitor them closely.”

And while these new drugs are relatively well-studied, there are still unknowns. They seem to help patients keep weight off more reliably than diet and exercise alone, but those benefits fade after people stop taking the drugs, and patients do often regain weight. There are also questions about long-term effects. In 1997, weight loss drug fenfluramine/phentermine (fen-phen) was pulled off the market after it was found to cause heart problems. More recently, Belviq (lorcaserin), which the FDA approved for weight loss in 2012, was pulled from the US market in 2020 because long-term use was found to increase the incidence of various types of cancers.

Even if a patient does want to go on one of these drugs, she might not be able to. Many patients keen to try Wegovy can’t access it at the moment, due to a supply chain issue that its manufacturer doesn’t expect to resolve until later this year. Even then, most US health insurers, including Medicare, do not cover drugs like Wegovy, and paying out of pocket can cost thousands of dollars per month. After Sarah’s doctor told her she doesn’t prescribe Wegovy, Sarah secured a prescription through an online health provider; she pays for it out of pocket.

The lack of insurance coverage is in spite of the fact that the American Medical Association declared obesity to be a disease in 2013. “The conversation around insurance coverage needs to be had with insurance companies, but also with employers,” says Kimberly Gudzune, the medical director for the American Board of Obesity Medicine. “It needs to be seen as an investment in your workforce.” The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, which would expand Medicare to include obesity treatments, has been introduced to US Congress every year since 2012, but has never passed.

America’s love/hate relationship with weight

Though excess body fat was once considered a sign of wealth or fertility, over the past century a stigma has developed against larger bodies. Today doctors associate excess weight with medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and depression. Studies also show that life is harder when you move through the world in a larger body. Fat people are less likely to be hired for a job, are paid less, are less likely to get married, and are less likely to be happy (though not if they’re living around other fat people). One 2006 study found that 46% of respondents would rather give up one year of life than be obese; 5% said they’d rather lose a limb.

The current state of research makes it impossible to unravel the full complexity of weight and health, but the conversation is starting to accommodate more nuance. Ubiquitous metrics such as body mass index are increasingly understood to be unreliable indicators (though doctors often still use them), and even the language around larger bodies is under review. Many physicians use “obese” to describe people who have excess weight or a BMI over 30, but activists are shying away from the word. “The reason…we are reluctant to use the words ‘overweight’ and ‘obesity’ is that they are made up, they can change,” says Tigress Osborn, a fat activist and chair of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

In fact, some research suggests that fat may have a protective effect on the body. “The body’s weight-regulating mechanism is about survival. It’s a system with more moving parts than we understand,” says Marilyn Wann, a fat activist and author of the book Fat!So? “Trying to remove weight from an individual or from the population is like trying to take a sledgehammer to the weather—we don’t know the unintended negative consequences we’re going to create.”

There are signs that in the future physicians may be more accepting of bodies of different sizes. But as weight loss drugs get more effective and more available, those cultural gains for body positivity (or body neutrality, or fat acceptance) may also be called into question.

A new relationship between doctors and patients

Overweight patients who come to see Shelly Crane might have an experience they’ve never had before. “I don’t initiate a weight-loss conversation with a patient,” says Crane, a family physician at Advocate Aurora Health in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Most weight-loss programs come with more risk of harm than good, she says, and there’s not enough evidence that people who do lose weight are healthier in the end.

Crane doesn’t regularly prescribe new drugs for weight loss, though she says more patients are coming in and asking for them lately. Instead, she prefers to keep conversations focused on goals of care. “Patients say, ‘I know I need to lose weight,’ and I say, ‘Why do you think you need to lose weight? What would change in your life if your weight was lower?’” That gives her an opening to talk about health more broadly—how is the patient’s sleep? Their diet? Their mobility? “I try to stay in my sphere of what I’m able to do as a family doctor and really address the root of the health issue as much as I can.”

Crane was drawn to this approach by listening to her patients talk about experiencing size discrimination, and by following the work of fat activists such as Ragen Chastain and Aubrey Gordon. Though she’s been trained in a more integrative style of medicine, her approach toward body acceptance was also shaped by her discovery of intuitive eating during medical school. Since then, she’s been working on deprogramming herself and her colleagues from anti-fat bias.

Crane is part of a burgeoning movement among doctors to improve the treatment of larger patients. For some, that means skipping the dreaded weigh-in, a practice that is somewhat controversial within medicine. Medical organizations like the Association of American Medical Colleges also offer guidelines to reduce anti-fat bias among clinicians.

For doctors, the updated approach at least engenders trust, which can in turn get patients to seek medical care more frequently and improve their overall health. At most, it broadens the definition of what “healthy” means, and looks like.

Some fat activists see this shift as an important step. “The thing we hear most often from the public is, ‘I thought I had this thing, but all the doctor wanted to talk to me about is weight loss, and now the thing is worse,’” Osborn says. “It’s progress to have people in the medical establishment recognizing that there are other healthcare concerns besides weight, if weight is a healthcare concern.”

The hope is that this evolution continues. Activists want more people, in the medical profession and outside of it, to respect their autonomy. That becomes even more pressing in a possible future filled with weight-loss drugs—a future where a person can simply take a drug and stop being fat. “The ease with which I could become smaller—why should I? That should be up to me. Just like, if you believe it’s a medical disorder, the treatment I choose should be up to me,” Osborn says. “Like with anything else, if you believe fat is a disorder, we should let people decide whether people will get treated or not.”

“Fatness isn’t a problem to be solved in and of itself. It is not the root cause of all ills, as much as [medicine] would like to think it is,” Crane says. “We can help people live full, rich lives when we focus on goals of care and not on weight.”

By Alexandra Ossola

Source: A new generation of weight loss drugs makes bold promises, but who really wins? — Quartz

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FatBlaster Max Has Just Been Banned Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Diet Supplements

Australia’s regulator has banned FatBlaster Max, an over-the-counter pill that claimed (with no evidence) to be able to help you lose weight. FatBlaster Max can no longer be purchased, after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) found the company behind the pills registered the medicine with no mention of weightloss properties and failed to produce any evidence substantiating its advertised claim it led to weight loss.

The ban has put over-the-counter weightloss pills back in the spotlight, shining light on an unregulated area that is immensely popular. Studies show one in seven people have tried an over-the-counter weightloss pill, undoubtedly enticed by their promises of helping people lose weight easily and rapidly. But do over-the-counter weightloss pills really work? Here’s everything you need to know about the weightloss supplements currently claiming a big share of Australia’s billion-dollar weight-loss industry.

What exactly are over-the-counter weightloss pills?

Broadly speaking, over-the-counter pills are anything you buy from a pharmacist without a prescription, like cold and flu remedies and paracetamol. Some over-the-counter medications are also available at retailers like supermarkets, service stations and health food stores. Over-the-counter weightloss pills are essentially dietary and herbal supplements marketed and sold with claims of assisting with weight loss.

The important distinction between over-the-counter weightloss pills and weightloss medications prescribed by a doctor is that prescription weightloss drugs – like all pharmaceutical drugs – must go through clinical trials and provide Australia’s drug regulator with evidence of their effectiveness and safety. Worryingly, the distributors of over-the-counter diet pills and supplements are not required to produce any evidence of their products’ efficacy and safety before they hit the Australian market. The TGA only requires them to hold, but not necessarily make freely available, evidence substantiating their claims.

How do over-the-counter weightloss pills help you lose weight?

Over-the-counter weightloss pills usually claim to have several herbal or natural ingredients that help you lose weight in one of four ways:

  1. by suppressing your appetite or making you feel full using ingredients like a tropical fruit called Garcinia cambogia or glucomannan, a dietary fibre made from the root of the konjac plant
  2. by speeding up your metabolism and your body’s ability to burn fat using components like the herb Ephedra sinica or a fatty acid (conjugated linoleic acid) found in meat and dairy products
  3. by blocking your body’s ability to digest things like carbohydrates and fat using Phaseolus vulgaris (also known as the common bean) or a variety of green tea leaf called Camellia sinensis
  4. by absorbing fat in the foods you eat, relying on ingredients like chitosan, a product created using the shells of crustaceans and insects.

Do these weightloss pills work?

In a word: no.

Most advertising for over-the-counter weightloss pills and dietary supplements will proudly claim a product’s results are backed by “clinical trials” and “scientific evidence”, but the reality is a host of independent studies don’t support these claims.Two recent studies by the University of Sydney examined data from more than 120 placebo-controlled trials of herbal and dietary supplements for weight loss, including products featuring the ingredients described above. None of the supplements provided clinically meaningful weight loss.

If they don’t work, why are they allowed to be sold?

Given there are few to no checks and even less accountability when compared to prescription weightloss drugs, the researchers’ findings should come as no surprise.

Recent studies suggest weightloss supplement companies have conducted very few high-quality studies. Many trials are too small, poorly designed and don’t accurately report the composition of the supplements being investigated. This is because there are no guidelines currently covering how these types of trials should be conducted.

The good news is the Australian regulator is taking some action on the claims made by distributors of these weightloss supplements, with the TGA recently banning the sale of FatBlaster Max. While the reality is the most likely thing to be damaged by over-the-counter weightloss pills is your hip pocket, the TGA’s action also serves as an important reminder that the safety of over-the-counter weightloss supplements can never be guaranteed.

Several products have been banned from sale around the world after causing serious health problems. This includes the TGA and America’s Food and Drug Administration banning dietary supplements containing ephedra in 2018, when supplements containing this stimulant herb were associated with cases of heart attack, seizure, stroke and sudden death.

Real harm is also caused by the over-the-counter weightloss industry feeding on people’s desire for a quick fix to achieve rapid weight loss. The reality is there is no wonder pill. Losing weight and achieving lasting results comes down to: following evidence-based care from health-care professionals and making meaningful changes to your diet, exercise and lifestyle that you can sustain for life. A spokesperson for FatBlaster said the company is disappointed with the TGA’s decision and it is evaluating options for next steps.

It said the TGA’s requirements had changed during the years that FatBlaster Max Tablets have been on the market and the company has taken great care to update all packaging, advertising and claims to ensure compliance with these requirements. The listing cancellation does not impact the wider FatBlaster range.

By :

Source: FatBlaster Max has just been banned. Why? Here’s everything you need to know about diet supplements

Critics  Mayo Clinic Staff

Are you an adult who has serious health problems because of your weight? Have you tried diet and exercise but haven’t been able to lose enough weight? If you answered yes to these questions, a prescription weight-loss drug may be an option for you. You should know, however, that prescription weight-loss drugs are used in addition to — not instead of — diet and exercise.

Who is a candidate for weight-loss drugs?

Your doctor may consider a weight-loss drug for you if you haven’t been able to lose weight through diet and exercise and you meet one of the following:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30.
  • Your BMI is greater than 27 and you have a serious medical problem related to obesity, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Before selecting a medicine for you, your doctor will consider your history and health challenges. Then your doctor will talk with you about the pros and cons of prescription weight-loss drugs. It’s important to note that weight-loss drugs aren’t for everyone. For example, prescription weight-loss drugs shouldn’t be used if you’re trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or are breast-feeding.

How well do weight-loss drugs work?

Prescription weight-loss drugs approved for long-term use (more than 12 weeks) produce significant weight loss compared with placebo. The combination of weight-loss medication and lifestyle changes results in greater weight loss than lifestyle changes do alone. Over the course of a year, that can mean a weight loss of 3% to 7% of total body weight above that achieved with lifestyle changes alone. That may seem like a modest amount. But a sustained weight loss of 5% to 10% can have important health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

What you should know about weight-loss drugs

Mild side effects, such as nausea, constipation or diarrhea, are common. They may lessen over time. Rarely, serious side effects can occur. For this reason, it’s important to thoroughly discuss treatment options with your doctor.Weight-loss drugs can be expensive and aren’t always paid for by insurance. Ask your insurance company about coverage. Many people gain back some of the weight they lost when they stop taking weight-loss drugs. However, adopting healthy lifestyle habits may help limit weight gain.

How long does drug therapy last?

How long you’ll take a weight-loss drug depends on if the drug helps you lose weight. If you’ve lost enough weight to improve your health and you haven’t had serious side effects, your doctor may suggest that you take the drug indefinitely. If you haven’t lost at least 5% of your body weight after three to six months on the full dose of a drug, your doctor will probably change your treatment and may switch you to a different weight-loss drug.

What drugs are approved for weight loss?

Four weight-loss drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for long-term use:

  • Bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave)
  • Liraglutide (Saxenda)
  • Orlistat (Xenical)
  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)

Most prescription weight-loss drugs work by decreasing appetite or increasing feelings of fullness. Some do both. The exception is orlistat. It works by interfering with absorption of fat.

Bupropion-naltrexone

Bupropion-naltrexone is a combination drug. Naltrexone is used to treat alcohol and opioid dependence. Bupropion is an antidepressant and quit-smoking aid. Like all antidepressants, bupropion carries a warning about suicide risk. Bupropion-naltrexone can raise blood pressure, and monitoring is necessary at the start of treatment. Common side effects include nausea, headache and constipation.

Liraglutide

Liraglutide is also used to manage diabetes. Unlike other weight-loss drugs, liraglutide is given by injection. Nausea is a common complaint. Vomiting may limit its use.

Orlistat

Orlistat is also available in a reduced-strength form without a prescription (Alli). Orlistat can cause bothersome gastrointestinal side effects, such as flatulence and loose stools. You need to follow a low-fat diet when taking this medicine. Rare cases of serious liver injury have been reported with orlistat. However, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established.

Phentermine-topiramate

Phentermine-topiramate is a combination of a weight-loss drug (phentermine) and an anticonvulsant (topiramate). Phentermine has the potential to be abused because it acts like an amphetamine. Other possible side effects include an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, insomnia, constipation, and nervousness. Topiramate increases the risk of birth defects. Phentermine by itself (Adipex-P, Lomaira) is also used for weight loss. It’s one of four similar weight-loss drugs approved for short-term use (less than 12 weeks). The other drugs in this group aren’t widely prescribed.

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