There are things that are proven to help you lose weight and keep it off, Kahan said.
“Support from a dietitian, nutrition education and, in some cases, medication or weight loss surgery can all aid weight loss,” he said.
The study authors issued a statement calling for tighter regulation of supplements and more high-quality studies to assess the risks and benefits of weight loss supplements. The study appears in the June 23 issue of Obesity.
Their work comes on the heels of another study that found weight loss supplements mostly ineffective. That research was presented virtually last month at the European Congress on Obesity and published in the International Journal of Obesity.
In the United States, supplements aren’t regulated in the same way that pharmaceuticals are so there is no way to know if you are actually getting what you’re paying for, said Kidambi.
Most weight loss supplements won’t cause any harm, but many peddle false promises, she said. “If supplements take the place of diet, regular exercise and behavior changes, they will harm you in the long run,” she added.
Some supplements sold online may be laced with ingredients that are harmful and banned in the United States, Kidambi noted.
Weight loss supplements can also be pricey, she said.
It’s buyer beware when it comes to weight loss supplements, agreed Dr. Louis Aronne, founder and director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City.
“There is very little research demonstrating that currently available supplements produce significant weight loss,” said Aronne, who was not involved in the new study.
Andrea Wong is senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group representing the supplements industry.
Wong, who has no ties to the research, pointed out that the new study did not include all of the dietary supplements on the market today, some of which may aid in weight loss efforts.
“Consumers should be wary of products that promise to make weight loss easy and to always talk to a health care practitioner for advice on responsible supplement use and weight management programs,” she said.