Abu Dhabi has issued a warning against slimming pill products, which it claimed contain ingredients which are “a risk to the health of the user", the WAM news agency reported on Wednesday.
Following complaints about up to 60 slimming products, the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD), the UAE capital’s regulatory body for the healthcare sector, issued a warning advising consumers against using products that contain ingredients of “unknown or doubtful composition”.
"Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate, and people are trying to lose weight by using weight loss products. Sadly, and despite the availability of approved products, consumers are being misled by some products safety and effectiveness," said Dr. Ali Obaid Al Ali, director of health regulation at HAAD.
After testing, the HAAD found some of the products contained harmful ingredients, such as Sibutramine and Alvenulfthalin. Sibutramine was previously used as a medicine weight loss drug but was withdrawn due to high blood pressure side effects, while Alvenulfthalin was prohibited and withdrawn from the market due to its carcinogenic qualities.
"Many consumers also have a wrong perception that any product marketed as herbal is safe, in many cases we have gathered and tested these products and found it to contain undefined chemicals or unknown drug concentration leading to a risk to the health of the user", Al Ali added.
Some 70 percent of UAE residents are classed as overweight or obese, a trend that is poised to trigger a surge in chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, according to a poll carried out for Philips Healthcare.
A host of factors have been blamed for the bulge in waistlines, including rising urban incomes, the adoption of a western, fast-food led diet and a decline in physical exercise.
The Weqaya screening programme, launched by the Abu Dhabi government in 2008, collated data from 95 percent of the 374, 653 Emirati residents in the capital.
The data found that 34 percent of Emirati adults were overweight, a further 36 percent were obese and only 30 percent had a normal healthy weight.