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Monday, July 26, 2021

Doctors warn parents of deadly online ‘diet pills’

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Doctors warn of the danger of diet pills purchased from the internet- direct cause of death.

Purchasing diet pills from unknown sources online may have serious consequences and could lead to death, a number of nutritionists from different clinics around Qatar confirmed to a local media outlet on Wednesday.

Health experts warned of the quality and quantity of the ingredients used to form drugs purchased online, including those marketed as treatments for obesity related health or weight issues, some of which used to by parents to balance the weight of their children.

“The mother can feed her child a poison in the form of medicine with the aim of treating thinness and accelerating the growth of his body or losing weight,” the experts said.

Parents seem to lack awareness and are easily persuaded to buy drugs that are banned and sold clandestinely through the internet, they warned.

These online drugs could lead to many severe complications especially when they are given to a child in the growth stage.

Risks include a potential delay in their growth process, mental retardation and other serious health issues, in addition to its alarming psychological impact on the child and their self-esteem, according to specialists.

Read also: The Mum Diaries: Dietician shares health tips for ‘mums on the run’

“Ordering drugs through websites of unknown sources is a very dangerous matter because it is impossible for these medicines to pass through the same stages as those that are sold in pharmacies, and usually the words written on the accompanying paper for the medicine sold via the internet are incorrect and do not match with the ingredients that the medicine actually contains,”  Dr. Iman Mahrous, public health and clinical nutrition specialist said.

The experts urged for more awareness on the dangers of the drugs and their negative impact on the human body in general, even for adults.

The right treatment for weight gain or loss problems lie in the hands of nutritionists that are able to properly diagnosis and suggest a safe balanced diet.

Dr. Iman said uninformed parents usually believe the drugs are made of herbs and nutritional supplements that help in losing weight. One such case is Sibutramine, a substance that is internationally banned because of its side effects on the central nervous system and its correlation with several deaths around the world.

“There are medicines of unknown sources that contain bacteria that lead to diarrhoea in order to lose weight, and there are other types of medicines that have been proven to contain worm eggs and when a person consumes them, the worms spread out in their digestive system and absorb their food and thus they lose weight as a result of the presence of these worms inside their digestive system,” the doctor said.

She stressed that all these drugs are very harmful and could threaten the life of those who consume them, advising the public to consult a certified doctor before taking any medications.

As for dietary supplements, the doctor advised people to opt for those that have been scientifically proven and approved by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

As for the treatment of thinness, Dr. Rashad Lashin, Medical Director at Al Malakiya Clinics said “all necessary tests must be done to ensure that what the child suffers from is really thinness and not just the parents assumptions.” 

“In many cases that come to us, complaining of being underweight or overweight are normal according to the correct evaluation, and therefore each case must be presented to the doctor first,” the doctor said.

“Drugs should only be taken as prescribed by the doctor because they may lead to serious health side effects and affect liver function, kidney function and other organs.

“It could also lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, infertility, tumours, muscle enlargement, heart and circulatory problems, mental disorders, depression, or stunted growth,” he added.

Read also: Food for thought: Are your friends influencing your eating habits?

Dr. Lashin highlighted the psychological and mental effects of parents’ pressure on their kids, saying “on top of these side-effects is the loss of self-confidence and the low self-perception that destroys the child’s psyche, weakens their capacity for productivity and creativity, and afflicts them with social isolation and a decline in public participation.”

He said that everyone should learn about the Body Mass Index (BMI) to properly assess their health.

In addition, the clinical dietitian at West Bay Medicare, Dr. Lama Abi Ghanem said in a statement that such medications designated for kids could potentially include a lot of chemicals and substances that are not approved by the FDA, noting there is not enough studies on the effectiveness of herbs used as dietary supplements.

She also outlined the impact of colourants and chemical substances used in kids’ supplements, adding that “research has shown that the large number of colourants cause overgrowth in children, and most of the medicines that are bought without consulting a doctor contain toxic substances such as Arsenic, Mercury, Cadmium and Lead, which affect the growth of children’s brain.”

Dr. Lama added that “weight gain drugs that are sold online may contain hydrogenated oils that justifies their cheap price, and this may lead to an unhealthy increase in the child’s weight, which results in the formation of fats around the arteries and thus problems in the heart and atherosclerosis. Children need the growth hormone but it must necessarily be under medical supervision.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Asmaa Said, consultant of clinical nutrition and public health, confirmed that such drugs lead to hormonal change which could lead to problems during puberty. She also recommended people who suffer from thinness to exercise in order to gain muscles while eating protein-rich meals. 

Nonetheless, doctors warned that such drugs are not to be given to kids below 12 years of age.


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