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Inspection warns against slimming drugs: ‘Don’t do it’

Influencers on TikTok are promoting the use of slimming pills and injections as a way to achieve weight loss results, but experts are warning of the dangers associated with these resources. The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) in the Netherlands has taken action against websites selling slimming drugs without a prescription, shutting down a sales site ten times last year. While appetite-reducing drugs are on the rise, they are intended for specific medical conditions such as diabetes or obesity, and not for people looking to shed a few pounds. Internist and professor of obesity, Liesbeth van Rossum, emphasizes that medication is not a panacea and that adopting a healthy lifestyle is still the best approach to achieving a healthy weight. She also warns against ordering slimming medication online, as many of these products come with health risks and are not intended for general weight loss purposes. The professor advises consulting with a doctor to identify any underlying medical, psychological, or social factors before considering medication. She further explains that medication does not offer a quick fix for achieving a tight body and that sustainable weight loss is achieved through lifestyle changes such as improving sleep quality, reducing stress, and following recognized programs. The article also mentions the development of new drugs that target distorted body processes in people with obesity and help counteract the yo-yo effect often experienced after weight loss. nonetheless, the Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) warns against using slimming products without medical consultation due to the associated health risks. Ultimately, Professor van Rossum emphasizes that medication is not the solution to the obesity epidemic, and the focus should be on promoting healthier food options and lifestyle choices.

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Get slim with pills or injections. Influencers show the result on TikTok and the resources are also available in the Netherlands, but experts warn of the dangers. The inspectorate intervenes regularly. She took a sales site offline ten times last year.

For example, drugs that reduce appetite are on the rise, but those slimming drugs cannot be sold without a doctor’s prescription. Yet that happens. The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) receives reports every month from websites that may illegally sell slimming pills and injections.

“We can issue fines and take a site offline, but our message is above all: don’t do it,” warns the inspectorate. “There are health risks and these resources are also intended for people who really need it, such as diabetic patients or people who are obese.”

“Developments are now suddenly going very fast,” confirms internist and professor of obesity Liesbeth van Rossum. This is partly because more and more medicines are easy to obtain.

Ozempic is the best known example: actually a diabetes medicine, but people also lose weight. In the United States, there was a run on the injectable after celebrities such as Elon Musk said they had used it. The increasing demand may have been the cause of global shortages, which is why more followed calls to keep the drug available for diabetic patientsfor whom it is intended.

Not a panacea

Ordering slimming medication is not the solution, says professor Van Rossum. “All these resources are not for people who just want to lose a pound or five. They are intended for obese people who do not lose enough weight and belly fat with recognized lifestyle programs. And it is a tool, not a panacea. Not something you can do on your own has to do.”

Adjusting your lifestyle remains the best way to achieve a healthy weight, says Van Rossum. “And that not only means moving more and eating less or healthier, but it’s also about sleeping better and living less stressful.”

Before people start taking medication, they should first discuss with a doctor which medical, psychological or social factors stand in the way of the effects of such a lifestyle adjustment, the professor explains. “Many people with obesity, for example, use a drug with weight-increasing side effects. Then it can help to reduce such a drug first.”

Medication is not a quick fix to get a tight body

Liesbeth van Rossum, professor

Another drug that is coming is the drug Wegovy, which has the same active substance as Ozempic, but in a higher dose. This drug is also intended for the treatment of obesity. Last week, manufacturer Novo Nordisk announced that the drug would also reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. As a result, the share price skyrocketed. But this medicine is also not intended to get rid of the holiday kilos.

A few slimming medications are reimbursed from basic insurance. Last year, three medicines were allowed in the basic package for the preceding in the Netherlands: Saxenda, Mysimba and Imcivree. Saxenda soon turned out much more popular than the Healthcare Institute had expected. Only a limited group of people with serious obesity will be reimbursed for the medicines. Strict criteria apply. Participants in recognized lifestyle programs are eligible.

The yo-yo effect

More drugs are being developed that should restore the disturbed body processes in people with obesity. “It is often thought that people who action a yo-yo effect after losing weight have too little discipline, but we know that the communication between the intestines and brain no longer works well with severe obesity,” says Van Rossum.

“When you lose weight, your body, as it were, remembers that you once had that higher weight and sets everything in motion to get back to that high weight. As a result, people who have lost a lot of weight have to make much more effort to keep their weight healthy throughout their lives. This new generation of resources seems to counteract the yo-yo effect.”

The Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) also warns against using slimming products without consulting a doctor because of health risks.

More than half of the adult Dutch population is overweight, but there are better solutions for this, says Professor Van Rossum. “As many as 80 percent of the products in the supermarket are unhealthy, there is already a lot of profit to be made there. Medicines to reduce weight or reduce the feeling of hunger are not the solution to this epidemic. Medication is not a quick fix to get a tight body.”

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