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    Popular Over-the-Counter Diet Aids

    Popular Over-the-Counter Diet Aids

    Topic Overview

    There are many over-the-counter products for weight loss. Individual products often contain several ingredients. Some contain 20 or more. It's important to read the label before you buy.

    The one thing all these ingredients have in common is that none of them have been proved to be both safe and effective. And taking any diet aid makes it hard for you to listen to your hunger signals so that you can have a normal relationship with food.

    Most over-the-counter diet aids don't work. And those that do work come with warnings about their safety. Doctors don't recommend any of them.

    Diet aid

    What it claims to do

    Is there evidence that it works?

    Is it safe for most people?

    Alli Blocks fat from the food you eat Yes May cause side effects
    Bitter orange Burns calories No May cause side effects
    Caffeine Lowers appetite No Yes
    Chitosan Blocks fat from the food you eat No May cause health problems
    Chromium Burns fat No May cause side effects
    Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) Burns fat, lowers appetite A little Mild to moderate side effects
    Dandelion Increases amount of urine so you lose water weight A little May cause health problems
    Ephedra Burns calories Yes No; banned in U.S.
    Fucoxanthin Burns calories and fat No Yes
    Glucomannan Acts as a laxative to absorb water, so you feel full sooner A little Yes
    Green tea Burns fat A little Yes
    Guar gum Lowers appetite No Yes
    Guarana Lowers appetite Yes Yes
    Guggul Aids weight loss A little May cause side effects
    Hoodia Lowers appetite No Unknown
    Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) Lowers appetite No May cause side effects
    Psyllium Acts as a laxative to absorb water, so you feel full sooner No Yes
    Pyruvate Burns calories A little May cause side effects
    Spirulina (blue-green algae) Lowers appetite No May cause side effects
    Yerba maté Lowers appetite No May cause health problems

    References

    Other Works Consulted

    • Dandelion (2004). In A DerMarderosian et al., eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.
    • Glucomannan (2011). In A DerMarderosian et al., eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.
    • Green Tea (2010). In A DerMarderosian et al., eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.
    • Guar gum (2004). In A DerMarderosian et al., eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.
    • Guarana (2005). In A DerMarderosian et al., eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.
    • Guggul (2004). In A DerMarderosian et al., eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.
    • Spirulina (2007). In A DerMarderosian et al., eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.
    • Whitney E, Rolfes SR (2011). Weight management: Overweight, obesity, and underweight. In Understanding Nutrition, 12th ed., pp. 271?282. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

    Credits

    By Healthwise Staff
    Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
    Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
    Last Revised September 23, 2013

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