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Study Hall: Weight-loss supplements won’t help you lose weight


For Study Hall each week, we sort through the deluge of new medical studies and wordy white papers to bring you one that deserves your attention—in plain, healthy English.

pill bottle

A recent study proves what you’ve always known (but wished wasn’t true): Quick-fix weight-loss supplements are the products of snake-oil salesman.

A research review published online in February in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise found that many weight loss supplements have little or no impact on an person’s ability to slim down.

The study: Researchers from Oregon State University reviewed all of the available studies that had been done on four categories of supplements: carbohydrate or fat blockers, stimulants, products that claim to change metabolism, and appetite suppressants.

The results: “There is no strong research evidence indicating that one specific supplement will produce significant weight loss, especially long-term,” the researchers found. The supplements had no or few randomized clinical trials (the gold standard in scientific research) examining their effectiveness or proving their claims. Also, many studies on supplements (especially the metabolic stimulants like ephedra) showed adverse side effects ranging from bloating to strokes.

What it means: Don’t be fooled by miracle weight-loss claims on pill bottles. A healthy lifestyle full of vegetables and boot camp classes is still your best bet. —Allison Becker