Hot Weight Loss Products: Worth the Hype?

by in Food News, January 17, 2013

food on scale
Now that the holiday gluttony is behind us, ‘tis the season for countless weight loss products to come slithering into the spotlight. Lose weight without exercising or changing your diet? Don’t be fooled!

The “Experts” Weigh In?
More now than ever, prominent celebrities (including members of the medical community) are endorsing weight loss supplements – there’s an immediate reason to be skeptical! What’s most important to remember is that these popular figures are usually being compensated in some way to give such products their seal of approval.

The Hype
We referred to the science-based Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database to get the facts on three of the most popular new products.

Raspberry Ketones
This berry-derived substance was previously used in small amounts as a flavoring agent for foods and drinks. It has also been used topically to treat hair loss (evidence that it works is virtually non-existent). More recently, it has been promoted as a miracle fat burner, promising weight loss with no effort. Not surprisingly, no research to date has been conducted in humans. This product may also have stimulant-like side effects, making it potentially dangerous for those with heart and neurological conditions.

Green Coffee
Extracted from unroasted coffee beans, green coffee is higher in cholorogenic acid – a potent antioxidant. Supplement makers claim the amount found in green coffee speeds weight loss and reduces blood pressure. Green coffee supplements contain caffeine, which can suppress appetite. While there’s some research from 2011 and 2012 reporting increased weight loss in subjects that took the supplement (vs. placebo), the dangers may outweigh the benefits. There’s a long list of potentially dangerous interactions with other supplements and medications including Bitter Orange (also taken for weight loss), blood thinners and drugs used to treat diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis. Because of the caffeine content, green coffee may also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb important minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium.

Garcinia Cambogia
According to the Natural Database, folks take garcinia for “weight loss, rheumatism, dysentery, as a purgative, and for treating worms and parasites.” While it may sound new to many, this is an old school supplement getting a second chance in the media. Research from the late 1990s and early 2000s found it ineffective for treating obesity. A study from 2002 reported a small amount of evidence to help combat hunger but was overall inconclusive. There’s insufficient evidence to support the safety of long-term use and like the rest, there’s also the risk of side effects. Garcinia’s potential side effects include nausea, digestion issues and headache.

Tell Us: What’s your take on celebs signing off on weight loss products?

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