Diet pills are not a new problem and have actually been around for years. But now with the increase of social media influencers flogging them, and more and more high street brands stocking them on their shelves- the problem is as dangerous as ever.
Earlier this year it was reported that diet pills were responsible for more than 26 deaths in the UK alone since 2007.
Hannah Copeland from the University of Kent spoke to the Canterbury Hub about her addiction to slimming pills that had detrimental effects on her mental and physical health.
The pyschology student has suffered from an eating disorder since the age of 12.
It wasn’t until she turned 18 that she discovered the world of diet pills.
She says: “I would go through periods of restricting my calorie intake and then periods of binge eating a purging.
“I started taking the pills because I didn’t think I was losing weight fast enough on my own so I thought if I took diet pills I’d lose more weight.
“The ones I took said they could help you lose three times more weight compared to dieting alone so I thought they would help me to lose weight a lot faster, even though I wasn’t even eating properly at the time.”
There are hundreds of different types of diet pills available on the market, some more dangerous than others.
Despite multiple deaths in the UK over the years relating to diet pills, there is still little regulation over what is being sold to who.
The Canterbury Hub asked Hannah whether she thinks there should be stricter regulations when attempting to purchase the tablets online.
“Definitely. It’s so shocking that anyone can make a social media account and sell diet pills.
“A lot of the time these pills aren’t regulated and you don’t know what they contain, it’s so damaging to people’s physical and mental health.
“I think social media sites need to review their regulations and act on this.
“A lot of people I know in real life actually sell diet pills and detox drinks through social media. I think people see it as a way to make money and little consideration goes into what effects they can have.
“Also, anyone can buy diet pills through social media, no one checks how old you are, whether you’re eating okay and if you might be struggling.”
Hannah wanted to take matters into her own hands and together with two friends started a group called ‘Kent Beats Eating Disorders.’
The group started in January this year and aims to “educate and break down the stigma surrounding eating disorders”.
The girls have joined up with charity Beat, who offer support and information to people suffering with eating disorders and their friends and family.
The group received a highly commended award at this years Kent Union Activities award ceremony.
Earlier this week, This Morning star Holly Willoughby received backlash after her photos were used to promote diet pills online.
Fans were outraged that the tv presenter was used in the Facebook weight loss scam.
Holly isn’t the only celebrity that has found themselves in diet pill controversies.
Geordie Shore’s, Marnie Simpson promoted diet pills on her Instagram only hours before it was announced that she was pregnant.
Some fans branded the TV personality ‘silly’ and ‘clueless’ for leading younger audience to think that she was taking the diet pills to stay slim while she was pregnant.
Many of the cast of the reality show often promotes slimming pills and teas as part of sponsorships.
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Hannah spoke out against influencers like Marnie, saying: “I think it’s shocking that celebrities and influencers are allowed to sell diet products online.
“A lot of people who follow these celebrities are young people who are really vulnerable to develop an eating disorder.
“When my issues with eating first started when I was 12, I found loads of ‘thinspiration’ photos online of really underweight girls and made them into a scrapbook.
“I think if social media was a huge issue in the development of my eating disorder almost 10 years ago then it has to be a massive factor now. With social media so prominent in society today, it’s so easy to be influenced by the photos you see.
“And to sell diet pills on social media, alongside edited photos of women with “perfect” bodies, you put the two together and think this is how I get that body.”
More from The Canterbury Hub: Bums, boobs and bellies: Is obsessing over social media affecting our mental health?