Is quick-fix weight loss a solution?

2013-07-28 14:01

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It makes some people feel nauseated, irritable and tired.

Their mouths become dry and they are constantly constipated.

Some even have suicidal thoughts after taking the drug.

But these side effects aren’t stopping thousands of overweight people around the world from trying a new diet pill that tames the appetite.

South African slimmers are ordering the drug, called Belviq, over the internet because it is not yet available in our pharmacies. But not everyone believes the drug’s promise of weight loss and keeping off the kilos.

Radio and television personality Bujy Bikwa says Arena Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures

Belviq, will have to convince him first.

“Diet pills like this help you lose weight very quickly, but you gain twice the weight as soon as you stop taking them.”

Bujy is talking from experience. He recently tried a quick-fix weight-loss programme during Dance Your Butt Off, a reality TV show in which obese contestants were paired with professional dancers and competed in weekly dancing challenges while losing weight.

Although the programme didn’t involve taking diet pills, the show measured how quickly individuals can lose weight with a low-calorie diet and regular exercise, while showing off their dance skills.

Bikwa, the Cula Sibone presenter on DStv’s Mzansi Magic channel, shed about 20kg during the two months he was on the show.

But as soon as he was eliminated, he gained it all back, and more.

“I decided there and then that quick-fix weight loss programmes were not for me,” he said.

Durban dietician Nirvana Govender confirmed why the quick-fix weight-loss programmes are problematic. “It’s because you lose weight rapidly that you gain it back just as quickly.”

Govender said she is no fan of diet pills, but said she still needed to study the safety and efficacy of Belviq before she could comment.

Belviq was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration a year ago.

The local Medicine Controls Council is yet to approve the use of the drug, but already South Africans are desperately enquiring online to get their hands on it.

Govender warns against this. “Buying a drug online that has not been registered in South Africa is not only dangerous but could also have legal implications,” she said.

“Obese people who desperately need to lose weight should try speaking to their doctors to prescribe other registered drugs, such as Duromine.”

But Duromine contains an appetite suppressant associated with serious side effects including irregular heartbeat, chest pain, tremor and difficulty in breathing.

And while Duromine cannot be taken for longer than three months, Belviq can apparently be used over extended periods for chronic weight management.

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