Viewpoint: death connected to diet pills bought over the internet

Paul Duhaney

Professor Jason Halford and Professor John Wilding offer their view on reports of a student who has died after taking diet pills, thought to contain a toxic substance called Dinitrophenol (DNP). 

Professor Jason Halford, from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology Health and Society and Convenor of the Liverpool Obesity Research Network, said: “It is never advisable to buy any medication from the internet, as the content and provenance is not known. 

“The only legitimate medications or over-the-counter products are those prescribed by doctors or dispensed by pharmacists.  

“Weight management treatments are intended for obese or overweight patients. These are people with significant health problems and not for individuals who are of ‘normal’ or ‘average’ weight.  

“All drugs have side effects, and whilst most are not life threatening, some can be, particularly if the drugs are used by individuals they are not intended for.  This is why their use requires medical supervision.  

“No drug can substitute for a well-balanced diet and exercise when trying to manage weight issues and treatments should only be used alongside this.”

 Professor John Wilding, from the University’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease and clinical researcher in obesity and endocrinology, said: “There is no robust evidence of the effectiveness of DNP for weight loss which is a highly toxic substance with no ‘safe’ dose. 

“There are many other products sold over the internet for weight loss which are ineffective and /or dangerous and it is impossible for people to know what they are buying. 

“There are some approved medications for weight loss, although only one, orlistat, is currently available on the NHS and as an over the counter product from reputable pharmacies.”

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