The Dangerous Combination of the Media and the Weight-Loss Industry

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The Dangerous Combination of the Media and the Weight-Loss Industry Abstract: Excessive use of diet pills by American women stems from the idea that thinness is ideal. This ideal is unlikely to change in the near future, so the use of diet pills and other unhealthy fat diets is likely to increase. If women remain unaware of the health risks associated with the use and abuse of these unregulated drugs, rates of illness and even death are also likely to increase. In 1997, the use of diet pills directly caused seventeen deaths (Cohen). Medical professionals speculate that many other deaths are indirectly related to weight-loss drugs. FDA regulation of 'natural' substances such as ephedrine and caffeine would alleviate widespread use of diet pills. Without such regulation, advertisement of these drugs will continue to entice young women to unintentionally abuse their bodies and risk their health. Depictions of women in the media have expressed thinness as perfect for the past few decades, and the thin ideal is becoming more extreme. The 'waif model' is common in magazines, on television, and on the runway. Although these individuals are considered underweight by medical evaluation, their appearance has become desired by the average American woman. Oddly, even as Americans have aspired to weigh less, our average weight has increased by more than ten percent since the early 1970s (Berg 29). This weight gain probably results from the high fat content in popular, condensed foods. This inadvertent weight gain, coupled with increasing desire for thinness, has created an enormous market for 'fad diets.' One variety of these diets is the use of diet pills. Despite the dangers of weight-loss drugs, they were used by an approximate... ... middle of paper ... ...s associated with the use and abuse of these unregulated drugs, rates of illness and even death are also likely to increase. In 1997, the use of diet pills directly caused seventeen deaths (Cohen). Medical professionals speculate that many other deaths are indirectly related to weight-loss drugs. FDA regulation of 'natural' substances such as ephedrine and caffeine would alleviate widespread use of diet pills. Without such regulation, advertisement of these drugs will continue to entice young women to unintentionally abuse their bodies and risk their health. Works Cited Berg, Frances M. Health Risks of Weight Loss. Hettinger, ND: Healthy Weight Journal, 1995. Cohen, Elizabeth. "FDA Wants Warning Labels for Some Herbal Supplements." CNN 3 June 1997. CNN Interactive. Online. Internet. 11 Oct. 2001. "Ephedra." TNP. Online. Internet. 17 Oct. 2001.

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