Proven: dietary supplements do not help you lose weight

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Over-the-counter herbal dietary supplements that are promoted for weight loss are becoming increasingly popular. But one of the largest studies to date on this topic reports "insufficient evidence" about its effectiveness in this area, especially since its composition is not officially regulated.

The trivialization of their consumption is due to the availability of these products in large and medium-sized stores and pharmacies, but they are not safe products, although they are perceived as such.

Some of them are especially aimed at losing weight, but this would only be a marketing argument as revealed by a study published by the European Association for the Study of Obesity in the journal "Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism", and presented at the European Congress Obesity (ECO). Results: The use of herbal dietary supplements "cannot be justified on the basis of current evidence."

Researchers are even calling for more studies on its long-term safety, especially since, unlike drugs, clinical evidence of its safety and efficacy is not required prior to release. "Our rigorous evaluation shows that there is insufficient evidence to recommend these supplements for weight loss. While most appear safe for short-term use, they will not provide clinically significant weight loss," says study leader Erica Bessell.

Dozens of plant extracts reviewed, with no convincing results

The plants analyzed in the study were:

Green Tea,

garcinia cambogia and mangosteen (tropical fruits),

White bean,

ephedra (stimulant that increases metabolism),

African mango,

yerba mate (herbal tea made with leaves and twigs of the Ilex paraguariensis plant),

wine grape (used in traditional Indian medicine),

licorice root

and East Indian Blessed Thistle (used in Ayurvedic medicine).

The dietary supplements tested could contain a whole plant or combinations of plants as the active ingredient, natural compounds isolated from plants and animal products and were presented in the form of pills, powders and liquids.

The researchers particularly regret the fact that in some countries the only requirement is that they contain acceptable levels of non-medicinal products. Their study consisted of conducting a review of all trials that compared the effect of herbal supplements with placebo on weight loss. The data come from 54 studies involving 4,331 healthy overweight or obese adults. It was from a weight loss of 2.5 kg that the effects were considered clinically significant. Analysis revealed that only one agent, navy beans, caused statistically significant weight loss, but not clinically greater than placebo (-1.61 kg).

"Herbal supplements may seem like a quick fix to weight problems, but people should be aware of how little we really know," adds Erica Bessell.

"There have been very few high-quality studies on certain supplements, with little data on long-term effectiveness. Furthermore, many clinical trials are short and poorly designed, and some do not report on the composition of the supplements studied. The huge growth of this industry and the popularity of these products underscore the urgency of conducting more extensive and rigorous studies to have a reasonable guarantee of their safety and efficacy for weight loss. ", he concludes.

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