Slimming is increasingly seen as one of the panaceas for Singapore’s societal ills, many young women feel that being slimmer can change the way they feel about themselves. The obesity rate among young Chinese women in Singapore is only 4. 2 percent. However, Singapore is ranked fifth in per capita consumption of diet pills in the world. Even the women who are not obese are taking diet pills to be slimmer. This has led to a whole host of products claiming to reduce weight with little effort flooding the market.
Advertisements claim that they promote “the natural way to losing weight,” that they allow women to “lose kilograms without avoiding [their] favorite foods. ” The idea they sell—that a natural product or method can reduce weight without exercise or diet—is obviously tempting. However, most of these over-the-counter diet pills have negative side effects, and often go to market without undergoing comprehensive clinical tests. The Health Services Authority of Singapore requires that all diet pills sold in Singapore should list ingredients visibly.
Since most of these products use the natural herbal name, the exact nature of the chemicals used remains unknown to the user. In addition, the Internet offers the average Singaporean buyer another host of “slimming medicines” that are not bound by these regulations, and fail to list ingredients at all. 3 The tragic incidents in Singapore caused by the Slim 10 pills created a wave of shock among the health professionals and authorities around the globe in 2002.
Andrea De Cruz, a 28-year-old TV actress suffered a failed liver because she was on Slim 10 diet pills for two months, but her life was saved by her fiance’s kindness to donate part of his liver to her. A43- year-old woman, Selvarani Raja, was not so lucky, and she died of liver failure from taking Slim 10 pills. Unfortunately, these tragic cases have been all but forgotten, and the Singapore market for such drugs is more flooded than ever before. Pharmacies sell these pills in their main aisles, in plain sight.
Diet pill advertorials constantly air on radio stations; many blogs claim to provide positive information on the new medications and their supposed effectiveness. The Singapore government has initiated a number of programs to promote healthier diet and regular exercise to control obesity, through community organizations. In spite of this, the usage of diet pills is increasing. With good weather year-round and well laid-out jogging and cycling tracks throughout the islands, what is stopping Singaporeans from sweating it out, and choosing quick-fix, hazardous medication instead?