Once upon a time, in a place far, far away, there was a poor widow who had an only son named Jack. This fairytale has been told for years, but to recap: Jack traded the family’s only cow for magical beans, they grew into a beanstalk and he 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 they’re called diet pills.
A number of diet pills have been released over the past 10 years, because of a growing demand for these miracle cures. These pills may not save anybody from any future fiscal problems, but they can help with squeezing into smaller sized clothing.
[lose] With popular culture pushing the viewpoint that every individual should be able to wear a petite size and somehow maintain a curvaceous figure, fad diets have become a common element of today’s society. Diets has become a common word in households as everyone now knows the Atkins Diet or the Subway Diet, but diet pills have been around for over 30 years, before the most recent trends began.
The rage all started with amphetamine pills that aimed at slimming your figure. Research denounced the pills because they were shown to cause little weight loss and become addictive to users. The slimming pills can still be found today, but new versions have come to prominence, such as Dexatrim, TrimSpa, Relacore and CortiSlim, which can be found in almost any pharmaceutical section of drug stores. There are many extreme options, such as appetite suppressants, meal replacements and laxatives, thus proving people will do almost anything to lose a few extra pounds.
Sarah Hughes, an elementary education sophomore, would take a different approach to losing weight. “To lose five pounds I would quit drinking,” she said.
[scale] Many people would even risk their health to lose weight. Despite diet pills’ ability to help individuals lose weight, a number of negative side effects have been found. Many of the problems have been attributed to the controversial drug, ephedrine (also known as ephedra), a naturally occurring substance derived from plants.
Some of the effects of ephedrine are: a boost in energy, anxiety, light-headedness and feeling faint, increased heart rate and rapid heartbeat, increased sweating and need for more water, increased blood pressure, decreased appetite and feeling restless and hyperactive
All of these effects are said to be quite normal, according to Dr. Michele DeGregorio of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Oakland. DeGregorio describes patients he has seen who have taken quantities of ephedrine as being overly agitated, very hyper and without focus.
“When I see patients that are on diet pills it is almost as if they are on speed or have attention deficit disorder,” DeGregorio said.
[diet] The Food and Drug Administration took notice of the problems with ephedrine and administered a consumer alert regarding all products containing the chemical, warning people of the risks of illness or injury, and therefore discouraging the pills’ use.
“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.”
Many students agree with DeGregorio. “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,” Danielson said.
However, Brittney Maurer, communication and marketing sophomore, said she would prefer to 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.
Girls aren’t the only ones tuning into diet pills as an alternate way to lose weight. Guys may be interested in the idea, but apparently would not go so far as to actually try them. This is true for history junior Brandon Porwoll. “I would never look to a bottle for weight loss,” he said. “The only weight loss I know is through hard work and working out.”
[hand] Craig Berry, political theory senior, agrees. “I have seen it used a few times in athletics,” Berry said. “Just seeing how it changed the guys mad me not want to take it.”
Even though diet pills have taken on a bad reputation, they are still legal to purchase in the United States, as many pills have begun to offer ephedrine-free alternatives. The pills claim to offer the same results without the negative side effects. One student on campus has experienced the bad aftershocks of the products but says they are generally safe. Lauren Pray, a journalism junior, said she has taken diet pills for over five years now and they are perfectly fine.
“Problems only happen when you take too many pills or you are not eating a correct diet,” Pray said. “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 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, then there should not be any problems,” she said.
[pills] However, when Pray first began taking the pills, they not only kept her awake, but there were also some other complications. “My heart would beat really fast, but now I buy the caffeine-free pills, and I see no side effects,” she said.
With the FDA probing further into the diet pill industry, many of the available drugs are becoming healthier through regulation. With a more watchful eye over the diet world as a whole, hopefully diet will become a safer dietary supplement. Or, perhaps we can learn to feel a little better about our bodies and throw away the magic beans for good.

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