This is Your Brain on (Diet) Drugs

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The diet drug combination "fen-phen" was withdrawn by its manufacturers in September 1997 after reports of damage to some users' heart valves. The success many dieters had with fen-phen, however, followed from its effects not on the heart, but on the head, as Michael Fumento explains in his book The Fat of the Land (Viking). He notes that one of the drugs, fenfluramine, appears to work by making more serotonin available in the brain, inducing dieters to feel full. The second drug, phentermine, is a mild stimulant that boosts the brain chemical norepinephrine, suppressing appetite. But Fumento, a medical journalist, won't miss fen-phen now that it's gone. Although he admits that he once lost weight on fen-phen himself, the rest of his book is devoted to the proposition that "there will be no quick fixes" for the "obesity epidemic." His prescription for weight loss? Sensible eating and regular exercise.

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