Well Being

Snooki Touts Diet Pills Containing 12 Times As Much Caffeine As Espresso

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So Zantrex-3 sounds to me like some sort of spaceship or far-off galaxy, but apparently it's a diet pill—ahem, ‘supplement'—being promoted by Jersey Shore's Nicole ‘Snooki' Polizzi as the secret to her recent weight-loss. In a new promo for the pill's manufacturer, the 4'9″-tall reality starlet talks about how she went from 126 to 109 pounds with the help of Zantrex-3.

“The fist time I took it, I went to the gym and I was working on the treadmill for an hour and I wasn't even tired,” says Snooki, who is slated to be the national spokesperson for Zantrex's “extreme energy” pill, the Zantrex-3 Fat Burner. “It just gave me so much energy to work out. I always wanted to go to the gym. I was never hungry. It just helped me with losing my weight.”

Sigh … You know what else gives you energy and keeps your appetite at bay? Cocaine. Meth, too, I hear.

In the old days, that's really all diet pills were—mild forms of amphetamines (sometimes not even that mild). But diet pill makers these days are getting trickier. Zantrex-3 is an amphetamine-free pill that claims to work based on healthy stuff like yerba mate, green tea, guarana and, oh, a little caffeine. But the drug's overall effect seems to be based solely on the caffeine. A 2005 analysis found the pills contained 1,223 milligrams per dose—more than 35 cans of coke or 12 cups of espresso. 

Using a caffeine-heavy pill right before rigorous exercise is “outrageous,” Dr. Keith Avoob, associate professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told ABC News. “It's a perfect example of bad endorsement. It's a quick fix, potentially a dangerous one, and celebs may have a high profile, but they're often not very credible sources.”

But because of Zantrex-3's natural ingredients, it's marketed and sold as a supplement, not a drug. Supplements tend to sound friendlier to people, harmless even. While many would think twice before taking an unregulated drug on a daily basis, a ‘supplement' is just like a vitamin, right?

Not exactly. Supplements aren't regulated by the FDA, which means a) they don't have to prove the claims they make, and b) there's really no telling what's in them. A recent New York Times investigation uncovered bunches of ‘diet supplements' that actually contained drugs that had previously been banned in the United States.

“The primary issue here is that the potential consequences of taking these OTC concoctions is a complete unknown since they are not tested for safety, efficacy or even to ensure they contain what they say they do in the amounts on the label,” says Martin Binks, Clinical Director and CEO of Binks Behavioral Health PLLC. “Perhaps the Snookies of the world should consider moderating alcohol and eating a balanced and nutritionally sound diet to enhance their workouts.”