We’re now fully in the swing of the TikTok generation, and the old beauty ideals of yore are out of the window in favour of Kardashian-Jenner style curves. While it may have once seemed like a more achievable body type, it’s progressively become more and more unattainable — think voluptuous breasts and buttocks, but with incredibly minimal amounts of fat elsewhere. Naturally, it’s led to a rise in more extreme and dangerous measures like the Brazilian Butt Lift, which has the highest mortality rate of any cosmetic procedure. But it’s also seen an increase in the prevalence of unregulated, DIY treatments, like the illegal appetite stimulant Apetamin, which has repeatedly made headlines over its proliferation on social media and associated dangers.
The unlicensed drug is widely available over the internet across the US and UK, and has been heavily promoted by influences as a quick way to achieve the desirable “hourglass figure”. However, it has been reported that there are a number of negative side effects, ranging from mild cases of tiredness to organ failure. Last year, the presenter of the BBC Three Documentary Danger Curves: Get Thicc, Get sick? Altou Mvuama said that her mother fell into a coma after ingesting Apetamin. Mvuama has admitted to taking the drug herself, and revealed that it made her so drowsy that she fell asleep at her school desk.
Here, HUNGER speaks to consultant plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon Dr Osman Bashir Tahir about the drug and its dangers.
What is Apetamin and why are people using it?
Dr Tahir explains that Apetamin is an appetite stimulating weight-gain supplement, which is primarily taken to help people gain weight. “It has become popular with social media influencers who promote it as a quick, non-surgical way of achieving a “slim thick” hourglass figure,” he says. Its chief ingredients are cyproheptadine, lysine, and other vitamins.
How does Apetamin work?
“This combination of lysine, vitamins, and cyproheptadine hydrochloride is said to act as an appetite stimulant and increase the amount of food you can eat in a day,” says Dr Tahir. “However, neither vitamins nor amino acids are known to increase appetite. Cyproheptadine hydrochloride, though, is an antihistamine (a medicine that alleviates allergy symptoms) that has increased appetite listed as a known side effect.”
In regards to how Apetamin is consumed, syrup is the most common way to ingest it, but the drug also comes in pill form. The main difference between the two, the surgeon says, is that Apetamin syrup contains a blend of vitamins and amino acids, while tablets or caplets only contain cyproheptadine hydrochloride.
What are the side effects or dangers of Apetamin?
Dr Tahir is not a proponent of Apetamin and does not advise using it in any form. He says that the negative side effects can range from low blood pressure, anaemia, headache, extreme fatigue and nausea to liver failure and even comas.
Is there any way to actually achieve an hourglass figure in a safe manner?
“The best road to an hourglass figure is exercise! There are specific strength training moves you can do that will help you define your shoulders, tighten up your core, and boost the look of your backside to create that coveted hourglass shape,” says Dr Tahir. “If you’re looking to gain weight, speak to a dietitian and your healthcare provider to develop a safe and effective plan tailored to your needs, rather than relying on illegal supplements.”