Fat burners diet:
Several hundred million dollars are spent on research every year in order to come out with new diet systems and exercises in order to reduce weight. Super stars such as Sindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell have also made millions out of their morning aerobic clips, and so have authors of thousands of books on diet and fitness. On the other side, fat burners have tried to make a break-through by convincing people to buy them in order to lose weight without having to cut on their diet or to go through the pain of exercise. With revolutionary developments in fat burners, many people are changing their minds and dropping both diet and exercise. However, the poor reputation that fat burners have earned over the years, in addition to the warnings from medical scientists may raise some doubts about these fat burners. In a country such as the US, with 58 million obese people and with 300,000 people dying every year from diseases which are related to overweight, fat burners have very good chances against exercise and diet (Kotler, p. 34).
Fat burners, usually coming in pills are chemicals which enable the body to lose weight. The process is complicated. There are fat burners which lead to loss of appetite to prevent the body from intaking more food than it needs (Kotler,p.34). Another kind of fat burners makes the body burn more fat and lose weight. No matter how they do it, fat burners have a common factor, that is, their interference in the chemistry of the brain (Kotler, p. 34).
The History of Fat Burners:
The history of fat burners dates back to the 1950s and 1960s when physical appearance and weight consciousness became public issues that attracted the attention of both scientific authorities and the public (Armstrong,p.67). As a result of research on fat burners, it was established that these pills led to damage which exceeded their benefits, and as a result, most of them were never licensed (Armstrong, p. 67).
One of the few fat burners that survived the ban on diet drugs was fenfluramine which is taken with phentermine. This combination is popularly known as Fen/phen, but to be acquired, it needs medical prescription that used to be given only to extreme cases where the dangers of obesity were far more serious than the possible damage caused by the drug (Marcial, p.60).
Fen/phen was practically listed on the black list, and slightly overweighed people could not have access to it unless they seriously needed to lose their weight in a very short period for short reason. More research was made on Fen/phen in an attempt to make it safer for use by the public, even without prescription (Marcial,p.60). By the end of 1994, a new drug seemed to be making its last steps into the FDA test labs. This was Redux, a new refined and improved version of Fen/phen. In April 1996, Redux was suddenly approved by the FDA and it was immediately released into the market (Lemonick, p.43).
Redux, the first fat burner to be approved by the FDA in 23 years, has an unprecedented ability of cutting down 10 Kg of weight in one week. Such a miracle is irresistible to obese people who have been dreaming of fitness all their lives. Since April and until last October, Redux has made sales leveling $100 million. According to forecasts, Redux will be making $1 billion in less than five years, which makes it the largest hit in the pharmaceutical industry ever. Despite the warnings, doctors are writing more than 85,000 prescriptions every week (Lemonick, p.43).
Although the majority of doctors prescribing Redux justify their action on the basis of the FDA permission, there are strong grounds for these warnings. The least of these is the process through which the licensing of Redux took place. At the first committee meeting, the FDA vote turned down the licensing for Redux as a result of the serious concerns that the committee had. However, two months later, and due to political pressure exerted upon the committee, and in the absence of the opposing members, a vote gave Redux the green light to be launched in the market (Lemonick, p.45).
What are the concerns that could have led to a Redux ban? We must first look at the means through which fat burners such as Redux work. Redux stimulates the production and availability of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for the physical and emotional sense of being satisfied. It also triggers a general feeling of well-being. This mood-elevating effect of Redux and Fen/phen is what probably contributes to weight loss. Indeed, users of Redux constantly report a fast loss of appetite which is one of the reasons why the increase in their weight is immediately halted (Shimp, p.13).
The risks, nevertheless, lie in the side effects which Redux has. These include fatigue, diarrhea, vivid dreams, and dry mouth. Although annoying, these side effects are still safe, at least compared to the other side effects. During the lab experiments, Redux was observed to have caused serious brain damage in lab animals, especially rats and baboons (Lemonick, p.45). Besides, like Fen/phen, Redux is strongly related to a very rare but fatal human disease known as Primary Pulmonary Hypertension, which destroys blood vessels in the lungs and heart (Lemonick, p.46). According to European research on Phen/fen, using the drug for more than three months raises the risk of PPH from the normal 1 or 2 in 1 million cases to 18 in 1 million. Some even argue that the actual rate is as high as 46 per 1 million patients (Lemonick, p.47). What raises the risk is that once you are hooked on Redux, you cannot stop because ceasing the drug intake lead to regaining the weight that was lost (Lemonick, p.47).
Although there are many scientists who doubt that Redux might lead to brain damage since human biology differs from animal biology, there is evidence that neurotoxicity is caused in humans by the drug. Neurotoxicity is the killing of the brain cells. This could happen due to an overdose of Redux, swelling the neurons that produce sertonin. These neurons then wither and finally die. Although these cells regenerate later, they are often malformed (Lemonick, p.45). Some neurologists argue that the threat is serious because a very small overdose can do the damage, such as two pills taken by mistake instead of just one (Lemonick, p.46).
In addition to Redux, a few other fat burners may find their way into the market soon. One of these is Sibutramine which boosts serotonin and other brain chemicals to cut appetite and burn calories. Orlistat blocks absorption of food by inhibiting enzymes needed to digest fat. Leptin is a naturally occurring hormone that may dampen appetite and boost metabolism. OB-Receptor makes the leptin receptors in the brain work more effectively. BTA-23 enhances the activity of fat cells, stimulating the burning of stored fat. CCK-Agonist mimics a natural hormone found in the gut that seems to inhibit eating. And finally, NGD-95-1 blocks brain receptors for a chemical that seems to control feeding behavior. All these new products are also waiting in turn for the FDA licensing, and since Redux has made its way through, it might be easier for these drugs to be in the market soon (Lemonick, p.46).
Some concerned medical professionals do not reject the use of Redux for patients whose obesity threats their health, but they do object the use of Redux by slightly overweight people. If one’s weight is only a few kilograms above the average, then the use of Redux might be a purposeless risk (Shimp, p.13).
Fat burners may now be in the rebirth phase. Millions are using them to throw extra kilograms away without a drop of sweat or having to sacrifice their delicious foods. The price to be paid can never be forecast in the foreseen future. The risks and hazards which fat burners such as Redux may impose on health may now be unimportant, but within a few years, side effects may have found their way, and by then, the damage might be irreparable. After all, it might be better to diet and exercise than to have these magic pills.
Kotler, Philip. (September 1996). Diet Pills. Health. p.34.
Lemonick, Michael. (September 23, 1996). The New Miracle Drug. Time, pp. 41-47.
Marcial, Caroline. (July 1996). The Redux of Redux. Utne Reader, p.60.
Shimp, John. (August, 1996). Redux of an Old Debate. Health, p.13.