Diet #FAIL: Fen-Phen

I thought I would start a series of posts to talk about previous failed weight loss attempts I’ve experienced in my 20 year dieting history. Feel free to share your comments and stories as well!

I’ve struggled with weight issues my whole life. Even as a toddler, I was pudgy. I was always hyper-aware of my weight, this nagging issue that was always front and center of my concerns and insecurities. Blah.

My mom was also really hyper-aware of her weight. She tried every gimmicky thing out there. You name it, she tried it (and usually I tried it along with her). When I was 14, she found the miraculous Fen-Phen from some weight loss doctor. She was on it and had tons of energy and never wanted to eat. So naturally, she took me to the doctor to get me on the stuff.

From Wikipedia:

Fen-phen was an anti-obesity medication (an anorectic) which consisted of two drugs: fenfluramine and phentermine. Fenfluramine, and later, a related drug, dexfenfluramine, was marketed by American Home Products, now known as Wyeth, but were shown to cause potentially fatal pulmonary hypertension and heart valve problems, which eventually led to their withdrawal and legal damages of over $13 billion.[1] Phentermine was not shown to cause harmful effects.[1] Wyeth made drugs marketed as Redux and Pondimin, which were used as the fenfluramine half of the fen-phen combination formula.[2]

It was supposed to be the hottest thing in weight loss! This combination of 2 pills that would make you want to exercise and not eat- genius!

I know what kind of questions you must be thinking:

  • What was your mom thinking to put you on drugs that early?
  • Why were you so worried about your weight at age 14?
  • What kind of doctor would prescribe that to you at such a young age?

Honestly, I don’t have the answers to those questions. All I know is that I took the pills and had tons of energy.

One day in gym class (which I usually hated), I was running around and then we did sit ups. I ended up getting super, super dizzy and lightheaded. I blacked out for a couple of minutes. If the feeling itself wasn’t enough to make me scared shitless, the embarrassment of having that happen in gym class at school was enough for me to put the stops on that.

Did it work for my mom? No. Like everything else, it was just one of those temporary things that you hope and wish will work out, and doesn’t. Thankfully before she passed, she didn’t have heart valve issues that Fen-Phen has come to be known for, and I haven’t had any either, thankfully.

What about you guys? Anyone out there ever try this?

  • Sarah7500

    My doctor gave me a prescription for it, and I found out two days later that I was pregnant. So never filled it.

  • Kate @ Twenty-Six to Life

    I'm so glad neither you nor your mom had any long-term side effects from it. I can't imagine how scary it must have been to pass out like that. I haven't ever tried Rx weight loss pills, but I admit I took some crap over the counter stuff once. After just one day I was so nutty I couldn't handle it – and I only took half the dosage!

  • Liza

    There is some scary stuff out there for sure! It's amazing the lengths we will go to to lose weight!!!

  • steff! (

    my mom was just like that too! nutri-system, jenny craig, slim fast…she tried everything & was the ultimate yo-yo dieter. while i was too young to diet a long with her (she died when i was 14) she certainly encouraged me to be much skinnier than is natural for me. oy vey. i vow that when i become a mother i will NOT pass on my body image baggage to my children.

  • Danielle

    scary! I was on weight watchers at an early age. which now kinda makes me mad. as an 8 year old your parents are the ones controling what you eat. I know it's the blame game, but I wonder at times if that isn't part of my good issues. gah.
    never have taken the pills before, just not for me.

  • KCLAnderson (Karen)

    Yes, I too too Fen-Phen. I was in my early 30s. I lost 40+ pounds. I was so proud of myself for never being hungry. For being able to survive on a bagel with peanut butter as my only meal of the day. I was also supremely constipated. Thank goodness that was the only “health issue” I faced while taking it. And once I stopped taking it, I regained the 40 pounds and then some…

  • Kara

    I'm glad you didnt have any issues from the drug. My mom certainly did and it contributed to her death last year. I have sworn to never take a diet pill and have told everyone I know to do the same!!

    • skinnyemmie

      Oh gosh, Kara, I'm so sorry that it contributed to your mom's death. Crazy how we'll pop pills for anything that promises something hard work can accomplish.