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Over-the-Counter Drug Works to Suppress Appetite


Officially, in 1998, U.S. poison centers logged about 1,400 calls about PPA -- with about 1% of these cases ending in major or severe problems, says Barbara Crouch, PharmD, MPH, of the University of Utah Poison Control Center in Salt Lake City. "Essentially, they're stimulants. They're similar to amphetamine compounds. ... Although they don't have the same abuse potential, they are fairly dangerous drugs."

And enormously ineffective ones, says Marilyn Wann, author of Fat! So?, and a member of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. "Americans every year spend $40 billion on weight loss products and we're getting fatter. So it's wasted money."

Wann, who is 5'4" and weighs about 270 pounds, believes she was born to be fat and doesn't much care what people think of the way she looks in a bathing suit. She wears one anyway -- even a thong style under the appropriate circumstances. "I read one statistic that 88% of women [in the United States] don't wear a bathing suit -- and that's sad. Life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks."

Not that she's advocating a diet of french fries: Wann says that healthy eating and regular exercise are important for everyone -- just don't count on them as a way to get thin. People tend to believe that weight is infinitely changeable, she says, but she thinks this depends on the individual.

Though this may be the high season for diet pills, Lou Moffat, general manager for Weight Watchers in the southeastern U.S., says she's noticed a general trend away from such remedies -- and an increased understanding that weight loss doesn't happen overnight

"I think people understand intellectually that weight loss takes a lot of time. Emotionally, they want it fast," Moffat says. "I've seen a lot more intellectual responses in the last few years."


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