Once upon a time, in a place far, far away, there was a poor widow that had an only son named Jack. This fairytale has been told for years, but to recap what happened with Jack, he traded the family’s only cow for magical beans that grew into a beanstalk and stole a golden harp that saved his family from future financial problems. Now Magical beans sound a little outlandish, but the 21st century has its own version of magical beans, and it is diet pills. A number of diet pills have been released over the last 10 years, because of a growing demand for these miracle pills. These pills may not save anybody from any future fiscal problems, but they can help with squeezing into smaller clothing sizes.
With popular culture pushing the viewpoint that every individual should be able to wear a petite size and somehow still keep curves to their body, fad diets have become a common part of today’s society. Diets have become common words in households as everyone now knows the Atkins Diet or Subway Diet, but diet pills have been around for over thirty years.
The rage all started with amphetamine pills that aimed at slimming your figure. Researchers would denounce the pills because the pills were shown to cause little weight loss and become addictive to its users. The slimming pills can still be found today, but new versions have come to prominence, as Dexitrim, TrimSpa, Relacore and Cortislim can be found in almost every pharmaceutical section. There is also an all-natural option of weight-loss that includes appetite suppressants, meal replacements, and weight loss laxatives, thus proving that people will do almost anything to lose a few pounds.
“I would kill a skinny girl if I could take on her dress size,” said Christina Danielson, a Michigan State Marketing Senior. For Erika Nitsh, hospitality business sophomore, said she would eat a large piece of raw meat, although she is a vegetarian.
However, Sarah Hughes, an elementary education sophomore, would take a different approach to lose some weight. “To lose five pounds I would quit drinking,” she said. “To lose fifteen pounds I would probably stop partying!”
With the ability to help individuals to lose weight, a number of negative side effects have been found with diet pills. Many of the problems with diet pills have been attributed to the controversial drug, ephedrine (also known as ephedra or , a naturally occurring substance derived from plants. Some of the negative effects of Ephedrine are:
•Boost in energy
•Some feeling of anxiety
•Light Headedness and feeling faint
•Increased heart rate and rapid heart beat
•Increased sweating and the need for more water
•Increased blood pressure
•Decreased Appetite
•Feel restless and hyperactive
All of these effects are said to be quite normal, said Dr. Michele DeGregorio M.D. of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Oakland. Gregorio describes patients that he has seen that have taken quantities of ephedrine as being overly agitated, very hyper, and without focus.
“When I see patients that have are on diet pills it is almost as if they are on speed or have attention deficit disorder,” said DeGregorio.
The Food and Drug Administration took notice at the problems with ephedrine and administered a consumer alert of all products containing ephedrine, warning people the risks or illness or injury and therefore such pills should not be consumed. The beginning of the consumer report said:
With the crackdown on the dietary supplement, the FDA took a large step toward getting rid of any products containing and amounts of ephedrine. There is still a problem as Gregorio explained it is not just the producers fault for people taking this drug, but that also the fault also falls on the doctors that prescribe any drugs with ephedrine.
“There should be an increase of regulation on dietary supplements,” Gregorio said. “It is all about producers making the newest unregulated product and it is too easy to get a hold of. Some doctors will prescribe just about anything if a patient complains to them.”
Students what Dr.Gregorio is saying.
“People want to lose weight, whether it is to be healthier and fit or to just look better, so they pump their body with these foreign chemicals and substances, which are not good for them, so there’s nothing healthy about that,” said Danielson.
However, Brittany Maurer, communications and marketing sophomore, said she would much exercise. “I would much rather work out and lose the weight the right way than just take some pills that are going to make my body feel horrible,” she said.
Even though diet pills have come to have a bad reputation, they are still legal to buy in the United States, as many pills have begun to offer ephedrine-free versions of the pills. The pills claim to offer the same weight-loss abilities without the negative side-effects. One student on campus has experienced the bad after effects of the products but says that they are safe. Lauren Pray, a journalism junior, said she has taken diet pills for over five years now and that they are perfectly fine.
“Problems only happen when you take too many pills or you are not eating a correct diet,” said Pray. “You cannot just take the pills and expect to lose weight, you have to live a healthy lifestyle at the same time.”
She also said that she has witnessed the positive effects of diet pills many times in her life, and that she plans on continuing to use them in the future. “I really do not see what the big deal is about them, if you are healthy and are smart about how you use them, and then there should not be any problems,” she said.
However, when she first began taking the pills, they not only kept her awake, but there were some other side effects “My heart would beat really fast, but now I buy the caffeine-free pills, and I see no side effects.”
With the FDA looking further into the diet pills industry, many of the available pills are becoming healthier through regulation. With a more watchful eye over the industry of diet pills, hopefully these magic beans will lead to a safer and healthier alternative to dieting.

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