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Diethylpropion for weight loss (Tepanil, Tenuate)

Diethylpropion (Tepanil, Tenuate) is a prescription appetite suppressant. Taking a “diet pill” like diethylpropion for weight loss can have many devastating effects on your physical and mental health. It can even increase your risk of developing an eating disorder.1,4

 minutes read
Last updated on 
April 23, 2024
medical concept
In this article

What is diethylpropion?

Diethylpropion, sold under the brand names Tepanil and Tenuate, is a medication prescribed on a short-term basis. Diethylpropion reduces a person’s appetite and is typically prescribed in conjunction with a meal and exercise plan.1

What are the risks of using diethylpropion for weight loss?

Although some people use the medication diethylpropion for weight loss, its continued use still poses certain health risks. Diethylpropion is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means it has the potential for misuse. Misusing Tenuate for weight loss can be dangerous and lead to many harmful consequences, especially considering it is structurally similar to amphetamine, a stimulant drug.2

Moreover, misusing diethylpropion, especially for longer than prescribed or recommended, could be a sign that someone is struggling with disordered eating or a clinical eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), or binge eating disorder (BED). That’s because taking a diet pill like diethylpropion for weight loss doesn’t happen in isolation—people are influenced by nefarious societal factors like:4

Diethylpropion side effects and health risks

Taking Tepanil can lead to many health consequences and adverse effects. Some common diethylpropion side effects include:1,2

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Depression
  • Tremors

In rare instances, diethylpropion use can lead to severe health risks, such as:2

  • Psychosis
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)

Other concerning diethylpropion side effects may include blurred vision, skin rashes, problems breathing, fainting, feet or ankle swelling, and painful urination.1 Call your doctor if you are in pain or experiencing severe distress.

Can you overdose on diethylpropion? 

Yes, it is possible to overdose on diethylpropion. Signs and symptoms of a Tenuate overdose may include:3

  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Circulatory collapse
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Convulsion
  • Coma
If you are concerned that you or someone else has overdosed on diethylpropion, call 911 immediately.

The problem with using a "weight loss medication" like diethylpropion

Research indicates that taking medication like Tepanil is strongly associated with other disordered eating behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting and other forms of purging, like laxative use or compulsive exercise.4 The same study found that anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa were significantly associated with diet pill misuse.4

Engaging in disordered eating, including using a “diet pill” like diethylpropion, increases your risk of developing an eating disorder, which is a complex medical and mental health disorder that severely affects a person’s ability to function. Those with an eating disorder might experience obsessive thoughts about food, eating, and weight, experience a pathological desire for thinness or weight loss, and are unable to function due to disordered eating behaviors and thoughts.4,5

The connection between diethylpropion use, fatphobia, and diet culture

One of the many problems with diethylpropion use is that it is prescribed to treat people living at a higher body weight, which is harmful because it pathologizes fatness. The truth is that people can be healthy at different sizes and weights. Pathologizing people living in larger bodies influences weight stigma, fatphobia, diet culture, distorted body image, and so much more. 

The reason people may take medication to try and lose weight is because of a desire for thinness, influenced by society, food labels, advertising, and everything around us. False beliefs about so-called “body ideals” can have devastating effects, like low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, negative self-talk, disordered eating, and even eating disorders.

Getting help for an eating disorder

Fortunately, once we become aware of our fraught relationships with food, eating, movement, and our bodies, we can get the support we need to heal.

If you are looking for an eating disorder treatment program that works with your schedule and is easily accessible, Within Health can help. Our at-home recovery program offers individualized treatment plans tailored to each person’s unique needs. You can access a variety of treatment modalities, like group and individual therapy, family counseling, support groups, nutritional therapy, experiential activities, and meal planning.

We offer virtual treatment

  • Attend therapy sessions
  • Get a numberless scale
  • Receive meal support

Have questions?

Call 866-293-0041

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.


  1. Diethylpropion. (2017). U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  2. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet]. (2012). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 
  3. National Library of Medicine. (2019). Diethylpropion hydrochloride ER – diethylpropion hydrochloride tablet, extended release. Accessed June 1, 2023.
  4. Reba-Harrelson, L., Von Holle, A., Thornton, L. M., Klump, K. L., Berrettini, W. H., Brandt, H., Crawford, S., Crow, S., Fichter, M. M., Goldman, D., Halmi, K. A., Johnson, C., Kaplan, A. S., Keel, P., LaVia, M., Mitchell, J., Plotnicov, K., Rotondo, A., Strober, M., Bulik, C. M. (2008). Features associated with diet pill use in individuals with eating disorders. Eating Behaviors, 9(1), 73–81. 
  5. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). (2013). American Psychiatric Association.


What is diethylpropion?

Diethylpropion is a prescription anorectic drug that suppresses appetite and causes weight loss. 

Is it safe to use diethylpropion for weight loss? 

No, it is not considered safe to take diethylpropion for weight loss. Using Tenuate can cause serious and even life-threatening side effects. It can also contribute to the development of an eating disorder.

What are the side effects of diethylpropion?

Common side effects of diethylpropion use include anxiety, insomnia, nausea, constipation, sweating, and depression.1

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Further reading

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