Rise of the unintended diet pills: How did Ritalin, Wellbutin and Topamax become the new arsenal against obesity?


Rise of the unintended diet pills: How did Ritalin, Wellbutin and Topamax become the new arsenal against obesity

Magic pills A host of drugs have the side effect of helping users to lose weight

Magic pills A host of drugs have the side effect of helping users to lose weight

Dieters are increasingly turning to a host of non-weight-loss drugs in an attempt to shed pounds.

The arsenal of pharmaceuticals, designed to be used for a range of illnesses including ADHD, female infertility and depression, are proving to have beneficial side effects for those trying to slim down.

Though the pills are not officially approved as obesity medication, their shady secondary use is on the rise as dieters seek alternatives to the only FDA-approved diet drug, Xenical, according to New York magazine.

Whether by reducing food intake,
changing metabolism levels, increasing heat production, or otherwise,
the drugs have the dubious side-effect of stimulating weight loss. Their fans and users flock to forums to compare notes and success stories as to their hidden – but often dangerous – effects.

Revia,
traditionally used to combat addictions to alcohol and opiates, blocks
the chemical rush that is usually triggered by an addicted substance –
such as food.

It
staves off cravings and has been known to limit binge-eating. The
magazine cites a study at the University of Virginia Medical Center in
which women dropped 3.7 lbs in eight weeks.

While depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder is often targeted by Wellbutrin XL, the drug is also said to boost dopamine's effects and curtail appetite.

The magazine says that in a small study of US women, the overweight and obese patients lost 12lbs in eight weeks when taking Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin XL

Topamax

Ritalin

Wellbutin XL (left), Topamax (centre) and Ritalin (right): Though the pills are not officially approved as obesity medication, their shady secondary use is on the rise

Ritalin – a highly addictive psychoactive drug sometimes called 'kiddie cocaine' – is most famous for its use in targeting children with ADHD. Its controversial applications do not end there, though, and its speed-like effects are popular with dieters who says it gives them energy and dissolves hunger.

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Qnexa

Phentermine

Revia (left), Qnexa (centre) and Phentermine (right): The FDA is in deliberation over the possible approval of a second diet drug, Qnexa

Popular as a weight loss mechanism for nearly 60 years, Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin is a hormone that is most regularly used to help women to conceive. Also used to address male hormone problems, injections of HCG have the unintended effect of speeding up metabolism, reports the magazine – though the hormone is paired with a very low calorie diet.

One short-term diet mediation, Phentermine, has become a long-term crutch for some overweight users. Not recommended for use beyond six weeks, the addictive psychostimulant is often relied upon for far longer. One UCLA study, writes the magazine, found that women lost an average of 17.6 lbs in twelve weeks.

Dependant users say that the moment they come off the drug, they begin to gain weight – but doctors only prescribe the drug for short periods and when combined with a low calorie diet and an exercise plan.

The FDA is in deliberation over the possible approval of a second diet drug, Qnexa, which is a combination of two approved drugs already prescribed by doctors to fight fat. Having been rejected in 2010, a new decision is expected by mid-April.