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FDA finding dangerous diet products


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POSTED: Monday, April 20, 2009

Now that summer is just around the corner, people are starting to think about getting into those all-revealing warm-weather clothes. For many this triggers the search for a weight-loss diet or diet aids that will take off pounds as quickly and easily as possible.

But before you start searching for miracle weight-loss pills, you should know about the Food and Drug Administration warnings. The agency's recent tests found more than 70 products (and counting) that were adulterated with dangerous and illegal pharmaceutical ingredients that could harm your health.

Question: Are these products commonly available as nonprescription weight-loss pills?

Answer: Since December the FDA has issued three warnings to consumers about these tainted weight-loss products. However, the products remain on the market. A Web site for one of the listed products states, “;Blowout Special!! Limited Time Offer!!!”; Apparently, they are eager to sell out before FDA closes them down for selling extremely dangerous products.

Q: Why did FDA consider these weight-loss supplements to be dangerous?

A: The FDA analysis discovered drugs in these products that included diuretics, anti-seizure medications, suspected cancer-causing agents, controlled substances and/or drugs not approved for marketing in the United States. Consequently, unwary users of these products are putting their health at risk.

Q: What should a consumer do if they have been taking any products on the FDA list?

A: The FDA advises consumers who have used any of these products to stop taking them and consult a health-care professional immediately. The FDA encourages consumers to seek guidance from a health-care professional before purchasing any weight-loss products. Use caution when purchasing products. Some companies use names similar to legitimate companies. One even uses the name “;Slim Fast,”; impersonating the legitimate Slim-Fast company. For more information about unsafe weigh-loss supplements and a complete list of tainted products, go to http://www.fda.gov and search for “;weight loss pills.”;

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Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., and Alan Titchenal, Ph.D., C.N.S., are nutritionists in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources,University of Hawaii-Manoa. Dobbs also works with University Health Services.