Dietary plans are increasingly making their way into people’s lives as they seek ways to lose weight. With specialised diets becoming popular, keto diet pills, paleo diet pills and the like are being sold on online portals. While these pills often do not have the ingredients list, license number or shelf life details, they can have unintended and unknown side effects.
As per the Ministry of Health’s Nutraceutical Regulations, such supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied diet. However, these diet pills are being sold without any regulations.
These pills promise to aid an individual’s diet with ingredients that act as an appetite suppressant to curb hunger and assist in metabolising fat properly. They do not carry a list of ingredients often and thus their side-effects also remain unknown. Doctors point out that such pills should not be taken without physician’s prescription as the evaluation for digestive power and overall health needs to be done.
“Intake of any drugs that interferes with the digestive system by suppressing the appetite is not recommended. As these drugs are available online, it does not mandate prescription by the consultant dietician and thus the medical condition of the person taking them is unknown. We recommend a medical check-up and evaluation even for diet supplements,” said Dr Dharani Krishnan, president of the Indian Dietetic Association, Chennai Chapter.
“The metabolism and digestive patterns vary from one individual to another and these pills can affect the absorption of the nutrients and can cause deficiency of nutrients and other undesirable side-effects based on the ingredients used, which an individual is not aware of when consuming it, Dharani added.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regulations mandate that the list of ingredients, including additives and packaging materials, should be mentioned on the drug pack. “It is a violation of FSSAI regulations to sell weight loss pills online without a list of ingredients, license number or shelf life details. It should be either approved by the (Food and Drug Administration) FDA or FSSAI. Also, products for medical purposes must be highlighted on e-commerce sites. These diet supplements can lead to malnutrition and digestive issues in the long run,” Dr Vinitha Krishnan, nutritionist, Fortis Malar Hospital, said.
FSSAI officials said that they have not approved any such diet pills and they should be taken down by e-commerce websites as they do not adhere to the regulations. However, any directive on acting against the sale of such pills have not been formed.