It's hard to go anywhere online right now without getting blown away by an ad for weight loss supplements. They appear on social media and in paid ads on random websites, and promise that you will lose a lot of weight in a short time just by taking one of these pills or powders.
But despite the allegations, a new study found that there really is no good evidence that many popular weight loss supplements actually work.
The study, published in the journal Obesity, was a systematic review of 315 randomized controlled trials in scientific research. Who evaluated how well 14 supplements worked. Of these, only 16 of the randomized controlled trials found evidence of significant weight changes (from 1-5 kg.) In people who took supplements compared to placebo during the study period.
Even then, the weight loss results were not consistent, and many studies had different results. Some studies would show that a supplement was linked to weight loss, while others found that it was not.
About 15% of adults in the United States have used a weight loss supplement at some point in their lives, according to National Institutes of Health (YOU H). With more women using these supplements than men. Americans spend about $ 2,1 billion a year on weight loss supplements, the NIH says.
Study author John A. Batsis, MD, an associate professor at the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tells Health that his research team had "full objectivity" in looking at supplements. The results, he says, "suggest that more high-quality evidence is needed" before these supplements can be recommended to patients.
"Despite the large number of potential supplements available, this review does not support strong, high-quality evidence of the efficacy of any of these products," adds Dr. Batisis.
Here's what you need to know about the results.
What are weight loss supplements, exactly?
A wide range of weight loss supplements are available, and they all promise to help users lose pounds. These supplements are found in capsules, tablets, liquids, powders and rods, with manufacturers claiming that the products reduce macronutrient uptake, appetite, body fat and weight and increase metabolism and thermogenesis, according to the NIH.
Common ingredients include botanical, dietary fiber, caffeine and minerals. However, the US Government Accountability Office says that "little is known about whether weight loss supplements are effective" and notes that some supplements "have been associated with the potential for physical harm."
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements, but the agency does not require them to be reviewed or approved by the FDA before entering the market. Instead, the company that makes the supplements is responsible for establishing that their products are safe and the claims on the label are true and not misleading.
What weight loss supplements did the study look at?
There were a total of 14 additions:
- ephedra or caffeine
- green tea
- guar gum
- garcinia Cambogia
- chocolate / cocoa
- conjugated linoleic acid
White kidney bean
- calcium plus vitamin D.
What experts say about the survey results
They are not shocked by the results. "Many of these substances have not been well studied," Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, an obesity physician and clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Health. "When they are, many studies find what we see here - no significant weight loss."
Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet, agrees. "This is 100% not surprising to me," she tells Health. "So many additions make claims that unfortunately do not have any conclusive scientific research to support them."
Given that these supplements are not tightly regulated, Dr. Stanford is concerned about the potential that they may make people less healthy. "As a physician and science medicine for obesity, I believe in using evidence-based medicine to help people manage their obesity," she says. "The safety profiles of many substances used can lead to other health problems." There are also no dosing or safety measures to ensure that substances are well regulated, says Dr. Stanford.
Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet
Relying on supplements alone can also mean that a person does not participate in other healthy lifestyle choices, says Gans. "Taking a supplement in hopes of achieving weight loss is not teaching an individual anything about creating healthy habits for long-term success," she says. “Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, 100% whole grains, monounsaturated fats can definitely help a person lose weight and achieve nutritional benefits. A supplement should never replace food and / or exercise. "