SILVER SPRING, Maryland – Are diet pills just a waste of money? New study finds that dietary supplements marketed to help people boost metabolism, burn fat, and reduce appetite actually show little evidence to do anything.
A team from The Obesity Society says there is “a lack of strong evidence” that these supplements actually work. Further, the researchers warn that their allegedly misleading claims “have the potential to harm patients.”
The results will likely shock millions of men and women hoping to be “beach ready” in time for summer.
“Our results are important to clinicians, researchers and industry because they suggest the need for a rigorous evaluation of products for weight loss,” says the corresponding author, Professor John Batsis, nutritionist at the University. from North Carolina, in a press release.
âOnly then can we generate data that will allow clinicians to provide more confident feedback and advice to our patients. “
Less than 20 diet pill trials actually produced results
There are literally hundreds of weight loss supplements in an industry that generates billions of dollars each year. These products range from cabbage and green tea extract to shellfish sugar, chitosan, guar gum, and conjugated linoleic acid. The study authors estimate that one in three Americans trying to lose weight turned to dietary supplements at some point.
The Obesity Society (TOS) analysis reviewed hundreds of existing studies. Most have shown that users have failed to lose excess weight. Professor Batsis suggests that manufacturers work with academics to design high-quality clinical trials for their products.
Patients often have difficulty losing or maintaining weight because therapies approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are ineffective. It is also difficult to access healthcare professionals who provide treatment for obesity.
The Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health is now evaluating the information and supporting ongoing research. TOS decided it was important to review non-FDA therapies to guide its members in pooling data from 315 randomized controlled trials. The team found that only 52 were at low risk of bias and were reliable enough for scientists to consider them effective.
Finding safer and more reliable ways to manage obesity
The TOS Clinical Committee, led by study co-author Dr Srividya Kidambi, recommends that doctors consider the results when advising patients to take medication for weight loss.
âPublic and private entities should provide adequate resources for the management of obesity,â adds Dr Kidambi. “We call on regulatory authorities to critically examine the dietary supplement industry, including their role in promoting misleading claims and marketing products that may harm patients.”
General practitioners tend to prescribe these supplements, in combination with diet and exercise, for people who have a lot of weight to lose. Typically, these patients have a BMI (body mass index) of 27 or more, which falls into the overweight or obese categories. However, some experts go further, calling for a ban on dietetic drugs.
The results appear in Obesity, the flagship journal of The Obesity Society.
SWNS writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.