Research conducted by CensusWide on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has found that only 4% of people in Scotland surveyed have heard about the potentially deadly substance DNP and know what it is, which is often illegally marketed as a ‘fat-burning’ food supplement to support weight loss or promote health and fitness.
DNP, or 2,4-Dinitrophenol, is an industrial chemical sold as tablets or capsules that has become popular amongst some people wanting to lose fat quickly, including bodybuilders and people with eating disorders. Despite not being suitable for human consumption, 26 people in the UK have died from taking it since 2007.
The survey found that a third (35%) of people in Scotland surveyed would buy a food supplement which claimed it could help them lose weight, and the majority (55%) would buy a food supplement marketed as a health and fitness product.
Once aware of what DNP is and knowing that it can be fatal, 95% of respondents said they would not take it.
DNP is used as an industrial chemical in pesticides and explosives, and taking it can cause the body to ‘overheat’, with side effects ranging from nausea and vomiting, to rapid or irregular heartbeat, and in some cases it can result in coma or death.
Ron McNaughton, Head of The Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit, said:
“Our survey shows a significant amount of the people in Scotland are unaware of this deadly substance, which is marketed illegally as a ‘fat burner’, and the majority would purchase or take a supplement marketed to help them lose weight or promote health and fitness.
“Also more worryingly, 5% of respondents would still risk taking DNP even knowing it could kill them.
“Food Standards Scotland are here to make sure that Scotland’s health is protected when it comes to food and food supplements. People in Scotland need to be aware of the dangers of DNP. It’s not safe for human consumption under any circumstance. We are concerned people may be at risk of serious consequences if they believe their weight-loss supplement is safe, but don’t know what’s in it and can’t verify its origin.
“It’s vital that no one puts themselves at risk by taking DNP. If you suspect you’ve been sold a product containing DNP or have any information about it being sold, then please do not take it. Report it anonymously via our Scottish Food Crime Hotline in partnership with Crimestoppers on 0800 028 7926 or through the online form on our website.”
Anyone who believes they may have taken DNP should seek medical advice immediately.