More Koreans Take Diet Pills to Beat Lockdown Flab

  • By Kim Sung-mo

    October 15, 2021 12:37

    A growing number of people are taking diet pills to combat lockdown weight gain, but the drugs are not without dangers.

    Data from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety shows the per-capita time people took prescription diet pills rose from 81.8 days in the second half of 2018 to 112.3 days in 2020.

    As more people turned to diet pills, supplies of drugs such as phentermine, phendimetrazine and phentermine/topiramate rose from 241.3 million pills in 2018 to 256.7 million. 

    Cases of side effects reported to the Korea Institute of Drug Safety and Risk Management surged from 1,399 cases in 2019 to 1,523 last year. Diet pills are essentially caffeine or speed, so they overstimulate the nervous system to work off calories, causing heart palpitations and increased blood pressure.

    Prolonged use can cause cardiovascular diseases and depression, in extreme cases leading to suicide. According to safety guidelines, diet pills should be prescribed for no more than four weeks and additional prescriptions should not surpass three months.

    Oh Sang-woo at Dongguk University said, "People who find their hands trembling when they take diet pills have a sensitive sympathetic nervous system and should stop using the drugs."

    People with high blood pressure should also refrain from using diet pills. In pregnant women, phentermine/topiramate can cause fetal deformities and experts urged expecting mothers to consult a doctor before taking such drugs.

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