Monday, January 21, 2013

Allured By Diet Pills & Laxatives?

I got carded yesterday in the middle of the afternoon. Yes, in spite of my grey hair and my approaching 50th birthday, I was forced to show my ID. This was not to buy a Chardonnay or a 6-pack, but rather to purchase something taken in much smaller doses—cough medicine. In spite of my visible maturity, the drug store required me to prove I am of legal age for such a purchase, given risks of using these products to produce methamphetamine.

Fair enough. But here's what struck me. At this same pharmacy, just 2 weeks ago, they were giving out samples of Senna laxatives, those natural-yet-lethal stimulants, which are anything but safe, especially if taken beyond the very limited time frame recommended. Use beyond the limited 7 days can result in dependency and can impact potassium balance with major consequences to your heart and other muscles. It’s not recommended in pregnancy or for nursing woman at all, nor for kids. And they certainly aren’t helpful for weight loss, yet that hasn’t stopped people from taking them with the hope that maybe these will get the pounds off.

As you might have guessed, I simply couldn’t keep my mouth shut about their promotion of this freebie back then. And here I am, getting carded to buy a bottle of Robitussin CF to legitimately control a hacking cough.

As I strolled around the store yesterday, I walked through the supplement aisle—just looking of course—lined with supposed diet products to melt the fat away and control weight. Laxatives, Sensa and other diet pills, formulas promising aid for the aging body—those were all there—with no ID required to protect our safety or our sanity.

Why aren't we in an uproar about this scam, about our being manipulated by the promise of this unrealistic dream of harmless weight loss? Why aren’t we protesting the ease of availability, alluring us to potentially damaging products that are deemed innocent enough to stock the shelves—deemed innocent until proven guilty? Why aren’t we shouting about the unwanted and unsolicited junk emails falsely promising weight loss we’re being bombarded with this time of year?

Why, instead, are we up in arms attacking soft drink manufacturers for selling Cola, Sprite and the others fearing their impact on the obesity epidemic?? They promise nothing—at least they're honest! Sure, excessive intake of regular Coke and Pepsi may contribute to obesity and may take the place of nutrients we could be eating. And excessive intake of Diet beverages, in my view, is no less concerning, as it displaces nourishment we all need and provides a false sense of fullness—which those of you struggling with anorexia clearly don’t need.

Buyer beware, is the advice I’ll leave you with. And do consider speaking up if you’re a recipient of unwanted diet promotions!


  1. I look back now that I can see more clearly & am livid at how no-one ever refused to sell me any of these types of products - even at my sickest. Do we really live in an age where making a sale is more important than protecting the safety of customers. Cate

  2. Actually, the problem with cough syrups is usually the dextromethorphan, which can be abused for its hallucinogenic properties in high doses, but yeah, the carding everybody thing is a bunch of nonsense.