Yoram Yasur: How do weight loss supplements work?
Rising rates of obesity – and the accompanying diseases, such as diabetes, heart problems and high blood pressure – have led to a growing interest in weight loss. The treatment of obesity is proving to be a great challenge, however, and most diet approaches simply do not work in the long term. Why? People find it difficult to comply with diet modifications and regiments of physical activity. It’s that easy.
Yoram Yasur: People find these supplements easy to use. In addition, supplement manufacturers assure their consumers that they not only lose weight successfully, but also experience additional health benefits. Currently, the use of such supplements is very widespread, since they are not considered as drugs and are, therefore, less regulated. But how safe and effective are these supplements?
Weight loss supplements: an easy approach to lose weight?
There are two very popular approaches to natural weight loss: diet modification (mainly through limiting caloric intake) and physical activity. These two approaches, when combined, can lead to a lifestyle change where success in weight loss can be achieved and the weight can be maintained for a long period of time. However, these methods are not so easy to comply with.
Another approach, easier being adopted these days is the use of supplements to lose weight. People are attracted to this shortcut because these remedies are considered primarily as “food supplements” and not drugs. Therefore, they are expected to be safer than drugs. This feeling is further exacerbated by the fact that supplements should not be prescribed by a doctor. People who failed to achieve their body weight goal using conventional approaches (or even ended up gaining weight instead) are particularly tempted by supplements.
Types of supplements and how they work
Yoram Yasur: Currently available weight loss supplements can depend on multiple courses of action and molecular mechanisms for weight loss. They can increase the energy that the body spends (Ephedra, caffeine), regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates (Ginseng, chromium), increase satiety (guar gum), cause an increase in the rate of fat oxidation or decrease the synthesis of fats in the body (green tea, licorice), or decrease the absorption of fat in the viscera (chitosan). Many supplements can also cause other effects (for example, mood elevation, as in the case of St. John’s wort). Quite a few supplements are based on the combination of several mechanisms of action.
Yoram Yasur: The weight loss industry is growing rapidly, and supplements helping account for the loss of fat from a very significant part of the market. It is estimated that people spend more than $ 1.6 billion each year on weight loss supplements in the US. only. With this remarkable and growing popularity, it is not surprising that the industry is tempted to introduce new high-selling products as quickly as possible.
Are supplements for weight loss effective and safe to use?
Yoram Yasur: A typical example when unknown effects are possible is a case when a combination of the botanical components or a combination of herbs are used together in some supplements. Combined action of all these components in the body is almost never properly studied, let alone that some of the individual ingredients need to be studied better. This is a strong argument against the use of supplements.
In addition, there is not enough evidence available at present to recommend the use of weight loss supplements. A combination of Ephedra-caffeine was found to be effective but has been banned by the FDA for the adverse effects associated with its use. Chitosan and guar gum have not been as effective and the effects of long-term use of chromium are not yet known. Caffeine, capsaicin, and fiber have little effect except when consumed throughout the meal. It is important for doctors to ask their patients about the use of any of the supplements before prescribing any medication and to closely monitor the effects of any of the supplements used by patients. The synergistic effect of these supplements cannot be ignored, but very little data is available to support them.
Reported side effects of dietary supplements
Yoram Yasur: Research studies carried out to check the widely used “Hydroxycut” supplement containing Garcinia cambogia have shown cases of hepatotoxicity in consumers. It has been suggested that the strictest controls to carry out the supplements before they hit the market. Ephedra is another commonly used constituent of weight loss supplement. It has been found, however, that ephedra-free supplements have a better hemodynamic effect on health compared to those that contain it.
It is very tempting to just take some pills instead of doing all this hard work. Unfortunately, scientific data to support the manufacturer’s claims often nowhere, and the safety of weight loss supplements is not particularly well studied. It requires a lot of research support to prove that these supplements really help in weight loss and are also safe to use. FDA and other authorities must take steps to approve these supplements before they are available for public use.