Weight loss supplements are available everywhere, from your corner drugstore to online retailers. We've all heard the hype, but do they really work? Most of the claims or testimonials you read are provided by the product manufacturers. Their comments are biased and their intent is to sell you a product. Therefore, it is important never to consider the advertisement claims when choosing a diet supplement product. Please consult your physician before taking any nutritional supplements.
Natural does not always mean safe!
Please keep in mind that many natural products can cause serious side effects, or even death. Many over the counter supplements can interfere with prescription medications, or aggravate existing health conditions.
Important issues to consider:
The FDA does not strictly regulate the supplement industry. Because of this, there can be serious problems with the products you purchase.
- Purity: Supplements often contain contaminants. Many minerals, for example, often contain high amounts of lead.
- Potency and consistency: Because the products are not regulated, they frequently do not contain the dosage described on the package. For example, a ConsumerLab study of chromium products found one that only contained 5% of the quoted amount on the label. You don't always know what you are getting, and there is no regulation in place to protect you. This appears to be a frequent problem, with inaccuracies ranging from no product at all, to dangerously high potencies.
- Claims are misleading. While the law states that no manufacturer can make unproven claims, many companies play on words to sell their products. For example, it may be illegal to say "This product promotes weight loss." so they say "This product is believed to promote weight loss" Many manufacturers will still use unproven statements to sell products, until they are forced to stop.
- Another issue to be concerned with when reviewing diet supplement advertisements is the use of references to scientific studies. Ads often quote supporting statements from unknown (yet official sounding) research labs such as "XXX Scientific Laboratories". They fail to tell you that XXX is located down the hall and is headed by their own research and marketing departments.
- Most people that take weight loss supplements are also conscious of what they are eating, and may also increase activity. When they lose weight, they assume it was the supplement and not the diet and exercise.
When 3FC review weight loss supplement products, we look at the claims of individual ingredients, and research medical resources to learn which supplements could really help in our weight loss efforts. Unless other sources are cited, we have used the following resources for reputable information on supplements:
- Berkeley Wellness
- Physicians' Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements
- Natural Standard