Diet Pills: Personal and social consequences
Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 1:26 pm
In a society where people are often judged by their appearance and the ideal body is thin, taking diet pills is often considered acceptable behavior. However, diet pills are a temporary solution to a long-term problem.
Maintaining a healthy weight is a ongoing process that involves eating healthy meals and exercising regularly, according to organizations ranging from the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the American Medical Association. According to the NIH, treating obesity with diet pills for a few months does not work over the long term. To be effective, a person would need to take pills for years, possibly for a lifetime.
At the start of the twenty-first century, there were no lifelong diet pill remedies. People who use diet pills often gain weight when they stop taking weight-loss drugs. They put on the weight they lost and sometimes gain more weight. This process is called the “yo-yo syndrome” because a person’s weight goes up and down like a yo-yo.
With repeated dieting, a person may lose muscle and gain back fat. The person who regains weight may also feel like a failure. While the yo-yo syndrome is not limited to people who take diet pills, a 1996 NIH report showed that nearly 100% of people who took fen-phen gained weight after they stopped taking the diet pill combination.
Misuse of diet pills can cause medical problems. In addition, there is a potential for addiction to some diet pills. Overuse of pills can affect concentration so that a person’s grades or work performance suffers. Mental and physical health are also affected by eating disorders.
Diet pills and eating disorders
Although excessive weight and obesity are problems in the United States and other countries, there is also a concern about people who diet to an unhealthy low weight. These people have an unrealistic image of themselves, so they continuously try to lose weight. They look in the mirror and see a heavy person. In reality, they may be extremely underweight.
These people have eating disorders. The condition primarily affects young women of high school and college ages. However, men were increasingly diagnosed with eating disorders by the end of the twentieth century.
People with anorexia nervosa starve themselves. People with bulimia eat and purge their food by vomiting or by some other means. People with both conditions may take diet pills, as well as laxatives, diuretics, and caffeine beverages.
Causes of eating disorders are varied. People may be perfectionists. They may feel they will gain control of their lives if they lose weight. Some male anorexics said they felt the pressure to be in shape for activities like sports. For teenage girls, their role models were the thin women in television programs, movies, and advertisements.
While people with these disorders think they gained control of their lives, they instead can become seriously ill. Anorexics can experience shortness of breath, chest pains, and stomachaches or nausea. Bulimics can experience dehydration and hormonal imbalances. Their esophagus and other internal organs may be damaged.
If not treated, eating disorders can be fatal. For someone with an eating disorder, taking diet pills can aggravate an unhealthy condition.