Dangerous dieting: avoid 'natural' weight-loss products 12/11
(This article is adapted from health news at ConsumerReports.org .)
If you’re planning to go on diet in the new year, make a resolution to stay away from weight-loss products that claim to be 'natural' but sound too good to be true.
"Deceptive advertising about weight-loss products is one of the most prevalent types of fraud," says David Vladeck, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. He added, "Any advertiser who makes health claims about a product is required by federal law to back them up with competent and reliable scientific evidence, so consumers have the accurate information they need to make good decisions."
This month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers to steer clear of the weight-loss product known as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), because the diet drug has not been approved by the FDA, and the companies selling them make unsupported claims.
The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission issued seven warning letters to companies marketing “homeopathic” over-the counter HCG products for weight loss, which direct users to follow a severely restricted diet. (Get a full list of companies and products.)
The drug is sold either as oral drops, pellets, or even a spray, and can be found online and in some retail stores. The HCG labeling for homeopathic use for weight loss states that each product should be taken in conjunction with an extremely low calorie diet, however, there is no substantial evidence that HCG increases weight loss beyond that resulting from the recommended caloric restriction. Individuals on a very low calorie diet are at increased risk for side effects, including gallstone formation, electrolyte imbalance, and heart arrhythmias.
HCG is a hormone produced by the human placenta, and found in the urine of pregnant women. The drug is FDA-approved for the treatment of some cases of female infertility and other medical conditions.
Other weight-loss products to avoid
The FDA also has identified 20 weight-loss supplements found to contain the drug sibutramine, which should not be used by consumers.
An FDA laboratory analyses confirmed the supplements contain sibutramine, the active ingredient in weight-loss medication Meridia, previously found to substantially increase blood pressure and heart rate and also linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. It was removed from the U.S. market in October 2010. The supplements are sold on various websites and in some retail stores in the form of capsules and as coffees and teas. Some are labeled "100% natural."
Earlier this year, the FTC cracked down on fake news sites hawking acai products. And our recent article on dangerous natural supplements identified two weight-loss supplements, bitter orange and chaparral, that posed serious risks.
Here’s a roundup of the latest tainted supplements from the FDA:
• Acai Berry Soft Gel ABC Bottom line
• Advanced Slim 5
• A-Slim 100% Natural Slimming Capsule
• Botanical Slimming
• DaiDaiHuaJiaoNang (also contains phenolphthalein, a solution used in chemical experiments and a suspected cancer-causing agent not approved in the U.S.)
• Dream Body Slimming Capsule
• Fruit Plant Lossing Fat Capsule
• Health Slimming Coffee
• Ja Dera 100% Natural Weight Loss Supplement
• Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee
• Lose Weight Coffee
• Magic Slim Tea
• Magic Slim Weight Reduction Capsule
• P57 Hoodia
• Pai You Guo Slim Tea (also contains phenolphthalein, a solution used in chemical experiments and a suspected cancer-causing agent not approved in the U.S.)
• PhentraBurn Slimming Capsules
• Sheng Yuan Fang
• Slender Slim 11
If you want to lose weight naturally, stick with these two tried-and-true weight-loss methods: diet and exercise.
Dangerous supplements. 9/10
Supplements: what you can do. 9/10