In the pressure to be thin and conform to societal pressures, teens are turning to diet pills that come with potentially dangerous side effects.
Weight loss pills are advertised as the quick solution in shedding pounds and obtaining the perfect figure.
The promise of an instant fix has teenagers taking diet pills and disregarding the warnings of health experts against them.
Research shows these supplements contain toxic chemicals that can wreak havoc on teen’s hormones, growth and mental health, all while their body is still developing.
Diet pills are unsafe for all ages but especially for teenagers because the pills interfere with their systems and result in nutritional deficiencies, particularly of iron and calcium.
Weight loss pills should never be taken by teens because these supplements contain toxic chemicals that can wreak havoc on their hormones, growth and mental health
A study by the Canadian Pediatric Society in 2004 said: ‘In growing children and teenagers, even a marginal reduction in energy intake can be associated with growth deceleration.’
Experts have consistently warned of the threats diet pills can cause and in extreme cases they can rip apart the stomach lining and even lead to death.
Diet pills often contain ingredients such as phentermine, orlistat and sibutramine.
These substances may keep the pounds away by messing with the body’s natural regulations but they come with a host of side effects including increased heart rate, fainting, unusual bleeding and heart attacks.
The FDAreported in 2009 that 69 different diet pills contained substances that could cause seizures and strokes.
Dr Lloyd D. Johnston, of the University of Michigan, said when he first began analyzing the use of diet pills among high schoolers, he found a common ingredient was linked to causing strokes.
Although it since has been removed from pills since the 1980s, he said today’s pills are no less different in the risks they pose.
Dr Johnston said: ‘We also found that those who took diet pills were more likely to take other illicit drugs, not including marijuana.’
Natural supplements containing plant extracts are the latest fad being pushed by the multi-billion dollar diet industry.
They are often seen as a safer option to diet pills containing the banned chemical dinitrophenol, which have caused 60 deaths worldwide.
Most appetite suppressants claim to slow digestion, thereby reducing cravings, but some also claim to ‘burn’ fat or speed up calorie expenditure.
Popular ingredients include garcinia cambogia and hoodia, a plant extract used by tribesmen in South Africa to help them survive without food while hunting in the desert.
But the consensus seems to be that these appetite suppressants do not produce the sought-after results — and, even worse, that those bought from online suppliers could contain dangerous ingredients that could prove fatal.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota claimed the use of diet pills in teenage girls had a significant spike in a five-year span, jumping from 7.5 percent to 14.2 percent in 2006.
They said a startling 63 percent of teenage girls use ‘unhealthy weight control behaviors’ to maintain a slim shape.
And 22 percent of teenage females use ‘very unhealthy weight control behaviors’.
In the United States around 24 million people suffer from an eating disorder.
Although the FDA can caution against using the pills, the ‘supplement’ label most bottles carry means a more difficult time in restricting their sales.
Actress Tia Mowry recently admitted she used diet pills to maintain a slender frame while she was under Hollywood’s spotlight.
She said she noticed her heart was racing because of the pills.
Mowry wrote in her cookbook: ‘I didn’t feel fat, but the pressure of being on television and wanting to look sexy and beautiful took over.
‘I’m not proud of it. I got skinny, true, but the pills caused my heart to race, and I knew in my gut that I was hurting myself.’
Alarmingly, there has been a rise in the number of diet pills for sale online.
The Mayo Clinic describes these diet pills and weight loss supplements ‘downright dangerous’ and advise people to speak with a doctor before taking any form of the pills.
Even regulated weight loss medicines on prescription from physicians can have nasty side effects including diarrhea.
These products are often unregulated and can contain substances not licensed for human consumption like pesticides and have proven to be fatal.
Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and The Only Way Is Essex star, Sam Faier, have reportedly used diet pills to lose weight.
Instead of turning to diet pills, mediation has been proven to help people lose seven times more weight than people on a standard regime.
Other healthy ways to lose weight are through exercise, changing eating habits and drinking more water.