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 (2013). In A DerMarderosian, JA Beutler, 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 (2011). In A DerMarderosian, JA Beutler, eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.
  • Spirulina (2012). In A DerMarderosian, JA Beutler, eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.
  • Whitney E, Rolfes SR (2013). Weight management: Overweight, obesity, and underweight. In Understanding Nutrition, 13th ed., pp. 259–291. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Current as of March 12, 2014

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