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Dieticians have key role to play in warning against slimming pills

Monday 4th December 2017
Almost two-thirds of diet pill users have experienced dangerous adverse side effects, new research shows. Image: jammyphotouk via iStock
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UK dieticians have an instrumental role to play in warning their patients against the dangers of taking pills that claim to boost weight loss.

New research carried out by Slimming World in conjunction with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as part of their #FakeMeds campaign found that one-third of slimmers have tried diet pills they have bought online, with 77 per cent enticed by their claims of how they would increase their losses.

Jenny Caven, head of external affairs at Slimming World, stated: "It's easy to see how quick-fix promises made by the sellers of online slimming pills could seem tempting to people who are desperately struggling with their weight."

However, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of those who had tried slimming pills reported that they had experienced adverse side effects, which include diarrhoea, blurred vision and even heart problems.

Lynda Scammell, senior policy manager at the MHRA, commented: "Quick fixes for losing weight may have serious health consequences in the short or long term, including organ failure and death."

Yet 81 per cent of respondents said they did not report their symptoms to anyone, as they were aware they may have bought unregulated pills online and were scared to tell their GP or pharmacist.

Indeed, 57 per cent of diet pill users said that not having to disclose to their doctor what they were doing was a major contributing factor to them purchasing the pills online in the first place.

Overall, four in ten slimming pill users admitted they were not aware of the health risks of using these pills - something dieticians have a key role in helping to change to ensure their patients are losing weight in a way that will not harm their health.

Last year, the MHRA seized more than 4.6 million fake diet pills, many of which had been manufactured and stored in garden sheds and warehouses infested with rats, all of which can put patients' health at further risk.

Written by Martin Lambert

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