Parents of medical student who died after taking weight loss pills reveal daughter was the 'happiest she had ever been'Leeds University student Sarah Houston, 23, found dead in her bedroom The bulimia sufferer had secretly been taking banned weight loss aidDNP is used as a pesticide and traces of it were discovered in her blood
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Games: The medical student plays in the street with local children in Guatamala during a visit in July 2012
Shame: Sarah was a beautiful, bright young woman, but always 'suffered from her image, her mother said
On Monday, coroner David Hinchliff
told an inquest it was ‘entirely’ responsible for her death last
September when she collapsed in her room at the University of Leeds.
Mr Houston, of Chesham Bois,
Buckinghamshire, who is now a lay minister, said it may have only been a
single pill which killed her. ‘Nobody knew she was taking it, not even
her flatmates,’ he said. ‘It would be posted to her university address
in a brown paper bag.’
On the anorexia and bulimia which
affected her from the age of 14, he added: ‘There was light at the end
of the tunnel in terms of her wanting to get better. She was a great
fighter against this and she had made a lot of progress.’
‘She was the happiest she had ever been. She was a bright medical student in her fourth year and loving it.’
His wife, 55, a retired pharmacologist, called for manufacturers to stop producing DNP, which boosts metabolism, as capsules.
‘Why are people selling it in capsule form, if they are not expecting people to take it as a dietary aid’ she said.
Mantra: Sarah kept this handwritten note next to her bed at home
The medical student was found dead in her bedroom by a flatmate the day after refusing to call an ambulance when she felt hot and unwell
THE DEADLY DANGERS OF DNP
DNP (pictured right) is sold as a weight loss aid, but has been described as 'extremely dangerous to human health' by doctors.
It is sold mostly over the internet under a number of different names but contains 2, 4-Dinitrophenol.
It is marketed mainly to bodybuilders as a weight loss aid as it is thought to dramatically boost metabolism.
The manufactured drug is yellow and odourless and was previously used as a herbicide and fungicide. It was launched as a slimming aid in the U.S. in the 1930s but then banned in 1938, due to the severe side-effects.
Depending on the amount consumed, signs of acute poisoning could include nausea, vomiting, restlessness, flushed skin, sweating, dizziness, headaches, rapid respiration and irregular heart-beat, possibly leading to coma and death.
‘If it is only sold in liquid form, you could use it in industry but you could not use it as a dieting aid.
‘I’m sure that Sarah would not have
taken it if it had not been sold as capsules.’ Mr Houston said: ‘It is
morally repugnant to package it in capsules. If there is an ounce of
moral integrity, then these people selling it should stop immediately.’
The coroner also demanded a crackdown, saying manufacturers knew the capsules were being bought for weight control.
Miss Houston was a confident and popular young woman with a strong Christian faith who did well at the local grammar school.
Her mother added: ‘She was a normal,
healthy weight. She was a beautiful girl and popular with the boys. But
she always suffered from her image.
‘This generation are under a lot of pressure, with the fashion models, the images you see in the press.
‘She was very bright and bubbly, she
had lots of friends. They were all aware of her condition. It wasn’t a
secret, it was a part of her.’
A post-it note above Miss Houston’s
bed read: ‘If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great
way.’ Her mother said: ‘That perfectly sums Sarah up.’