Wendy Foulds Mathes, PhD, is trying to create an eating disorder in rats by allowing them to binge on Oreo Cookies. Many people would believe that getting stuffed on cookies would come natural to a rodent, but it doesn’t.
By controlling when the rats are given cookies and then looking for changes in the brain, they are trying to determine when changes in the brain may indicate that the foods are affecting the brains’ reward system similar to drugs or alcohol.
What they are studying is a serious question. People with eating disorders struggle to change their behavior, just like alcoholics or addicts, which can cause life-threatening health problems like hypertension, heart arrhythmias and diabetes.
Many people — both physicians and laymen — have oticed that when people with eating disorders talk about the food they eat, it can sound similar to how people with substance abuse problems talk about abusing drugs.
For people struggling with an eating disorder, especially anorexia, weight-loss diet supplements are ofte seen as an answer. But instead of providing a solution, many diet supplements intended to be beneficial, turn deadly.
Individuals looking to lose weight find that diet supplements often seem like a magic solution. The makers of diet pills make extravagant claims about the properties of their drugs, yet many of the claims aren’t supported by research. Actually, the drugs that come with glowing promises to melt the pounds away may hold hidden dangers.
Even though the risks of using diet supplements are well know, the demand continues to skyrocket. Up to 50 percent of people meeting the criteria for an eating disorder have reported using over-the-counter diet pills, herbal supplements or prescription drugs to take off the weight. A person using weight-loss drugs, without being under a doctor’s supervision, is putting their bodies in harm’s way.
Diet Supplements: What are They?
Diet supplements are any products that a person takes orally and which may include nutrients, herbs or other ingredients that add to their regular diet. Not all supplements are meant to help in losing weight; a supplement may provide a nutritional replacement for people who can’t get enough of a specific mineral or vitamin in their daily diet.
A dietary supplement may contain:
3. Amino acids
6. Glandular extracts
7. Organ products
How Weight Loss Supplements Work
A person seeking diet supplements as an aid in losing weight will have plenty from which to choose. The businesses that distribute them often claim that the ingredients in their products can help you achieve results such as:
1. Curb cravings for food
2. Make you feel full
3. Speed up the metabolism
4. Slow down fat production of the body
5. Keep the body from absorbing fat
Diet supplements meant for weight loss can be purchased in just about any form that can be taken orally, from pills to capsules and liquids. Some are meant to be taken with a meal, others taken instead of a meal.
Over the counter pills supposedly help in weight loss by stimulating a person’s metabolism, or how th body utilizes energy The main ingredient in products like Dexatrim is caffeine, a central nervous stimulant (CNS) which may help burn off fat through termogenesis. The risks of taking these stimulants often outweigh the benefits.
Why Weight Loss Pills May be Dangerous
Many diet supplements are harmless. Some may even be effective at creating a sense of fullness, burning fat or juicing the metabolism. Some of the more popular ingredients in weight loss products have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of harmful side effects such as:
1. Increased heart rate
2. High blood pressure
5. Kidney and liver damage
6. Rectal bleeding
Once popularly used in diet supplements, the herbal stimulant Ephedra was banned in 2004 because of evidence that its use could trigger a stroke or heart attack. While a lower court ruled, in 2005, that Ephedra could be used in small doses, that decision was overturned in 2006 by a federal appeals court which reinstated the original FDA ban.
Lipozene has not been evaluated or approved by the FDA and contains 1500 mg of Amorphophallus Konjak (AK). One website, LipozeneLab.com, which has been reviewing Lipozene, has found that the supplement has been shown to cause:
1. Difficulty in breathing
2. Difficulty in swallowing
3. Swelling in the face, mouth and/or tongue
6. Chemical dependency
Some products cause severe damage to the kidneys, liver and other organs. Hydroxycut was banned and recalled in 2009 because of reports of reactions including hepatitis and jaundice.
Fenrluramine, one of the two main, active ingredients in the diet drug Fen-Phen, was recalled in the late 90s when the drug was linked to heart damage and lung disease. Determine, the other main ingredient is still used and prescribed in certain cases for weight loss but is only available with a doctor’s prescription and not over-the-counter.
Abusing Diet Pills
A person with an eating disorder may not be concerned about the dangers associated with dietary supplements. They may be so focused with the goal of losing weight that they don’t care about the health risks. In an obsessive drive to take off weight, an individual with anorexia or bulimia is apt to abuse the supplements in these ways:
1. Taking more than recommended
2. Taking diet products that aren’t recommended for their particular body weight and size
3. Taking prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription
4. Take two or more weight loss stimulants at the same time
5. Combining diet pills with laxatives or diuretics
6. Combining the diet supplements with illegal stimulants
The goal of an eating disorder program is to support each client individually in their recovery goals. Whether that means gaining, or losing, weight is up to the treatment team. Unless diet supplements are recommended by a physician, they are normally not part of a healthy recover plan for eating disorders.