Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

Are weight loss supplements regulated by the government? Are they safe?

Weight loss supplements have become front page news due to the publication of a recent study that shed some light on the fact that as many as 20% of the participants thought the government, specifically the Food and Drug Administration FDA, was testing and regulating weight loss supplements.

The truth is that supplements that promise quick weight loss have little if any science behind their claims. The labels look scientific and believable to many Americans looking to lose weight. They are in fact not regulated by the FDA and only receive action by them if there are serious side effects reported by those taking them. The FDA will take action if harm is caused but doesn’t approve them prior to marketing.

A quarter of the people in the survey believed that the products would not cause side effects because they were regulated and approved by the FDA and therefore would help them lose weight more than other supplements.

In fact, the survey found that of those taking weight loss supplements, half reported experiencing at least one side effect such as jitteriness, increased heart rate, constipation, diarrhea, or dry mouth. Potential liver failure and even death were reported from some weight loss supplements.

Many taking over the counter weight loss supplements fail to tell their doctor and may be at risk for drug interactions with their prescriptions leading to further harm.

Some weight loss supplements contain substances banned by the FDA according to the survey. There is also no evidence that taking these supplements will assist your weight loss goals. Only a third of those participating in the study reported losing any weight and no one reached their goal.

The bottom line with weight loss supplements is there is no real way to determine what substances, helpful or harmful, may be in the product. These products are considered safe until proven otherwise, but then it might be too late.

The safest, most effective way to lose weight is control the calories you eat and drink at the same time you increase your physical activity. There is no magic pill and losing weight doesn’t come quickly or easily. You have to take action to achieve your goals. You are worth the effort!

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