Are slimming supplements a waste of money?

Last Updated: Jul 12, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: If you are thinking of taking
a slimming pill or any such supplement to shed extra weight,
think again as new studies claim those products may be a waste
of money.

Two studies presented today at the International
Congress on Obesity in Stockholm, Sweden, found that the
so-called slimming supplements were no more effective than the
fake supplements they were compared with.

claiming weight-loss effects through all sorts of mechanisms
of action. We have so-called fat magnets, mobilisers and
dissolvers, as well as appetite tamers, metabolism boosters,
carb blockers and so on," said Dr Thomas Ellrott, head of the
Institute for Nutrition and Psychology at the University of
Gottingen Medical School, Germany, who lead one of the
studies.

"The market for these is huge, but unlike for
regulated drugs, effectiveness does not have to be proven for
these to be sold.

"Few of these supplements have been submitted to
clinical trials and the landscape of products is always
changing, so we need to put them through rigorous scientific
evaluation to determine whether they have any benefit."

For their research, Ellrott`s group tested nine
popular supplements against placebo pills in a randomised
controlled trial.

The supplements tested included L-Carnitine,
polyglucosamine, cabbage powder, guarana seed powder, bean
extract, Konjac extract, fibre pills, sodium alginate
formulations and selected plant extracts.

The researchers bought the supplements from German
pharmacies, changed the packaging and product names to make
them look neutral and rewrote the information leaflet inserts
to eliminate the product name from the text.

They then gave 189 obese or overweight middle-aged
consumers packages of either fake pills or of one of the nine
supplements, each week for eight weeks, in doses recommended
by the manufacturers.

Average weight loss, they found, was between 1 kg and
2 kg across seven of the products, while it was 1.2 kg in the
group getting the placebo pills.

"We found that not a single product was any more
effective than placebo pills in producing weight loss over the
two months of the study, regardless of how it claims to work,"
Ellrott said, adding that consumers should opt for regulated
obesity drugs with proven effects instead.

PTI