Diet Pills

Toxic medicines

Toxic medicines In this feature failed tests global alert action The case of Eloise Parry, who died in April after taking eight toxic tablets containing the pesticide dinitrophenol, has focused attention on the shady online diet supplement industry, says Simon Cripwell A deadly diet W Our testing has revealed that consumers are unlikely to have any idea of what products really contain, how much is safe to take and in what dosage, or what the potential side effects might be arwickshire Trading Standards has disclosed that nine health and diet supplements, available to purchase online from UK retailers, have failed tests conducted by a public analyst. Achieving weight loss, improving general health and vitality and providing additional vitamins are just a few of the health-related claims made by the companies selling the supplements online. However, composition and nutritional tests DO DIET PILLS WORK? carried out by the public analyst on behalf of The general concensus is that there is no such thing Warwickshire Trading Standards discovered as a safe diet pill. Pharmaceutical companies have serious problems with all nine products. This spent decades trying to develop an acceptable is despite the fact that all are classied as food metabolism-enhancing medicine, because it supplements, not medicines; manufacturers, could earn billions of dollars for the industry. There importers and retailers of food supplements have been some spectacular failures such as have a responsibility to ensure their products DNP, which was withdrawn after it caused heart are safe and correctly described. valve damage in patients but no successes. However, the online market for diet products All the products tested made health which are sold as food supplements rather and nutritional claims that either could than medicines is booming. According to drug not be substantiated, were unauthorised company Pfizer, it is now worth US$45bn (29.6bn) or were unapproved. Some failed to give worldwide every year. The latest NHS figures, from appropriate warnings. 2009, showed that sales of vitamins and dietary The threat posed to the public by these supplements in the UK that year totalled 674.6m. supplements is substantial. According to Most of these products are ineffective, research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) but people using them sometimes lose in 2008, nearly a third of people in the UK weight when they are instructed to exercise, or take some kind of vitamin, mineral or dietary switch to a healthy diet as part of a broader supplement on most days. treatment regimen. In some cases, however, scammers are selling In April this year, Eloise Parry, a 21-yearsupplements that contain untested or banned old from Shrewsbury died after taking diet ingredients that are known to damage peoples pills believed to contain dinitrophenol, known health. DNP, for example, is still available on the as DNP an industrial chemical. A French web because it can be sold legally as a fertiliser. man was also left seriously ill after taking the substance. A global alert has since been issued by Interpol about the substance, which is also used as a raw material for explosives. Five of the products in Warwickshire Trading Standards survey either gave incorrect or insufcient information about the name of the food, or about the characteristics and quantities of vitamins, minerals or other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect present in the product. Six products either gave incorrect information or information was missing, including ingredients listings, name and address details, durability markings, net quantities, storage conditions, nutritional declarations or allergen information. Janet Faulkner, head of Warwickshire Trading Standards, said: The online sale of vitamin, nutritional and dietary supplements is a multi-million pound business, but what our survey revealed is that many of the health and nutritional claims these products make have not been proven and should not be made. There have been a number of cases recently of people being taken to hospital after taking supplements that make unsubstantiated health- related claims, including a young woman who tragically died after swallowing a number of diet pills. Our testing has revealed that consumers of the products we looked at are unlikely to have any idea of what they really contain, how much is safe to take and in what dosage, or what the potential side-effects might be. Warwickshire Trading Standards, together with other trading standards services across the UK, has already contacted the sellers of the tested products to provide appropriate advice and/or to take further enforcement action. N HS ADVICE G If you are going to purchase operating outside the In light of recent events, and supplement, you should these tests that revealed a consult your GP. Doctors a supplement, do so from a EU and regulatory control. number of breaches of food can offer informed opinions known, reputable retailer There is a greater risk that safety legislation, Warwickshire about whether a particular Trading Standards is reiterating dietary supplement is you take is properly to making misleading the following advice provided necessary or advisable. described and includes claims, may also be by the NHS and other bodies: Pharmacists can also offer clear dosage information unsafe or dangerous G Before you buy or use a advice on supplements G Ensure that any product G Beware of online retailers these products, in addition to consume Credits Published You might also like Simon Cripwell is a trading standards Thursday 28 May, 2015 Cyber scams December 2015 ofcer at Warwickshire Trading Standards. Images: designer491 / Shutterstock To share this page, click on in the toolbar