Monday, 13th July 2020

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Weight-loss pills: Fact or Fiction?

Weight-loss pills: Fact or Fiction?

Over-the-counter weight-loss pills have become a growing trend. But are these products safe and effective? This article is endorsed by Europa Health Clinic.

Do these pills and products lighten anything but your wallet? And are they a safe option for weight loss? Here's a look at some over-the-counter weight-loss pills and what they will and won't do for you, as investigated by the Mayo Clinic, USA.
A number of weight-loss pills are available at your local chemist or health food store. Even more options are available online. Most haven't been proved safe and effective, and as the Mayo Clinic, USA, state some are downright dangerous.  Here are a few of them.

Herbal or dietary supplement The Claims

What we need to know

Chitosan Blocks the absorption of
dietary fat.
Relatively safe, but unlikely to cause weight loss.  Can
cause constipation, bloating and other gastrointestinal
complaints.  Long-term effects unknown
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Reduces body fat,
decreases appetite
and builds muscle.
Might decrease body fat and increase muscle, but isn't
likely to reduce total body weight.  Can cause diarrhoea,
indigestion and other gastrointestinal problems
Ephedra Decreases appetite. Can cause high blood pressure, heart rate irregularities,
sleeplessness, seizures, heart attacks, strokes and
even death.  Banned from the marketplace because of
safety concerns, but may still be legally sold as a tea.
Despite the ban, many Ephedra products are still
sold on the Internet
Green tea extract Increases calorie and fat metabolism and
decreases appetite.
Limited evidence to support the claim.  Can
cause vomiting, bloating, indigestion and
diarrhoea.  May contain a large amount of
Guar Gum Blocks the absorption of
dietary fat and increases
the feeling of fullness, which
leads to decreased calorie intake.
Relatively safe, but unlikely to cause weight loss.  Can
cause diarrhoea, flatulence and other gastrointestinal
Hoodia Decreases appetite. No conclusive evidence to support the claim.


Dietary supplements and weight-loss aids aren't subject to the same rigorous standards as are prescription drugs or medications sold over-the-counter. Thus, they can be marketed with limited proof of effectiveness or safety. Anybody selling these pills can make health claims about products based on their own review and interpretation of studies without the authorization of any Health Authority.  However a Health Authority can pull a product off the market if it's proved dangerous.

For the consumer, it's hard to know what you're getting, or even if the list of ingredients matches what's in the bottle. Many weight-loss pills contain a cocktail of ingredients — some with more than 20 herbs, botanicals, vitamins, minerals or other add-ons, such as caffeine or laxatives. How these ingredients interact individually and collectively with your body is largely unknown. Therefore using them can be a risky venture, especially if you're taking other medications.

Your own scrutiny and curiosity are your best protection. Read labels closely, check the blood sugar levels and their metabolic system and talk with your doctor or pharmacist about any dietary supplements you're taking or consider taking.

There's no magic bullet for losing weight. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is through indefinite lifestyle changes: Eat healthier, low-calorie foods, watch portion sizes and engage in regular physical activity. It's certainly no magic pill, but it works.

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