Common dietary supplements for weight loss

Robert B. Saper, David M. Eisenberg, Russell S. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations

Abstract

Over-the-counter dietary supplements to treat obesity appeal to many patients who desire a "magic bullet" for weight loss. Asking overweight patients about their use of weight-loss supplements and understanding the evidence for the efficacy, safety, and quality of these supplements are critical when counseling patients regarding weight loss. A schema for whether physicians should recommend, caution, or discourage use of a particular weight-loss supplement is presented in this article. More than 50 individual dietary supplements and more than 125 commercial combination products are available for weight loss. Currently, no weight-loss supplements meet criteria for recommended use. Although evidence of modest weight loss secondary to ephedra-caffeine ingestion exists, potentially serious adverse effects have led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the sale of these products. Chromium is a popular weight-loss supplement, but its efficacy and long-term safety are uncertain. Guar gum and chitosan appear to be ineffective; therefore, use of these products should be discouraged. Because of insufficient or conflicting evidence regarding the efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid, ginseng, glucomannan, green tea, hydroxycitric acid, L-carnitine, psyllium, pyruvate, and St. Johns wort in weight loss, physicians should caution patients about the use of these supplements and closely monitor those who choose to use these products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1731-1738
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican family physician
Volume70
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004

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