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Making Sense of Diet Pills

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The Scoop on Prescription Diet Pills

Other approved diet prescription drugs available on the market include Xenical and Phentermine.

  • Xenical: Xenical is the first in a new class of diet pills that decrease the body's fat absorption by 30 percent. This drug can create urgent bowel movements and should only be taken in conjunction with a well-balanced food plan. The side effects are obviously uncomfortable and may also involve the malabsorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K—along with decreasing the effectiveness of certain medications.
  • Phentermine: Phentermine is the phen in Fen/Phen and was widely used in conjunction with another drug called Fenfluramine Hydrochloride (Fen), which has been taken off the market at the request of the FDA for possibly causing heart valve damage. Prescribed by a doctor, Phentermine is an amphetaminelike substance that may help suppress appetite and slightly increase the metabolism. However, the overall effectiveness of this drug is still very questionable and tolerance builds up quickly after the first few weeks. Phentermine should always be taken while following a calorie-controlled diet plan. Also, you should avoid Phentermine if you have high blood pressure, a hyperactive thyroid, glaucoma, diabetes, or emotional problems. Side effects of this drug include sleeplessness, irritability, headaches, increased blood pressure, stomach upset, and constipation.
  • Meridia: This drug increases your sense of fullness, helping you eat less food while still being satisfied. Like Phentermine, Meridia can raise blood pressure and therefore should be used with caution by people who have hypertension.
  • Topamax: Topamax was designed as an anti-seizure medication, but it also turns out to help binge-eaters control their eating. Side effects of Topamax include sleep problems, mood changes, and difficulty with memory, concentration, and attention.
  • Wellbutrin: Wellbutrin is an antidepressant that has been shown to help some people lose weight. Side effects include headache, insomnia, dry mouth, dizziness, and skin rash.
  • Metformin/Glucophage: This is a drug designed to control insulin and glucose levels in people with diabetes. It also helps nondiabetics control food cravings— thereby facilitating weight loss. Metformin's most serious side effect is lactic acidosis, which occurs mainly in people with kidney or liver problems.


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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition © 2005 by Joy Bauer. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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