The developed world is in the middle of a major obesity epidemic. It is predicted to cause millions of premature deaths and billions of dollars, money that would be badly needed elsewhere. The well-known method of eating less and moving more is most efficacious but sadly not very effective, that is to say people do not easily adopt and adhere to it. This is why many experts are searching for a treatment that works and is acceptable to all or at least most patients.
Entrepreneurs of alternative medicine have long jumped on this band waggon. They have learnt that the regulations are lax or non-existent, that consumers are keen to believe anything they tell them and that the opportunities to make a fast buck are thus enormous. Today, they are offering an endless array of treatments which are cleverly marketed, for instance via the Internet.
Since many years, my research team are involved in a programme of assessing the alternative slimming aids mostly through systematic reviews and occasionally also through conducting our own clinical trials. Our published analyses include the following treatments:
Supplements containing conjugated linoleic acid
There are, of course, many more but, for most, no evidence exist at all. The treatments listed above have all been submitted to clinical trials. The results show invariably that the outcomes were not convincingly positive: either there were too few data, or there were too many flaws in the studies, or the weight reduction achieved was too small to be clinically relevant.
Our latest systematic review is a good example; its aim was to evaluate the evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving the use of the African Bush Mango, Irvingia gabonensis, for body weight reduction in obese and overweight individuals. Three RCTs were identified, and all had major methodological flaws. All RCTs reported statistically significant reductions in body weight and waist circumference favoring I. gabonensis over placebo. They also suggested positive effects of I. gabonensis on blood lipids. Adverse events included headache and insomnia. Despite these apparently positive findings, our conclusions had to be cautious: “Due to the paucity and poor reporting quality of the RCTs, the effect of I. gabonensis on body weight and related parameters are unproven. Therefore, I. gabonensis cannot be recommended as a weight loss aid. Future research in this area should be more rigorous and better reported.”
People who want to loose weight are often extremely desperate and ready to try anything. They are thus easy victims of the irresponsible promises that are being made on the Internet and elsewhere. Despite the overwhelmingly evidence to the contrary, consumers are led to believe that alternative slimming aids are effective. What is more, they are also misled to assume they are risks-free. This latter assumption is false too: apart from the harm done to the patient’s bank account, many alternative slimming aids are associated with side-effects which, in some cases, are serious and can even include death.
The conclusion from all this is short and simple: alternative slimming aids are bogus.
both THE TIMES http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/health/diet-fitness/article3710252.ece and THE TELEGRAPH http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9922246/Diet-secrets-of-the-stars-are-bogus.html report about this post but the latter fails to mention the source [not sure about the former, as i refuse to pay to read the times on line]
There is a huge business out there selling the discredited Simeons protocol – the HCG diet. The American Society of Bariatric Physicians have a gratifyingly robust position statement on this: http://www.asbp.org/about/positionstatements.html
They have set up an “HCG Diet Council” to produce evidence to support the efficacy of HCG and persuade the FDA to license it for weight loss, which is unusually brazen, most SCAMmers don’t actually admit that they are engaged in policy-based evidence making.
Is there a substitute to a sensible, balanced diet and regular exercise? I speak with many patients who think that they are eating a balanced diet, where they eat fruit once a fortnight and is devoid of vegetables unless they are thin slivers of potato fried in oil…
Rather than lead people to slimming aids and/or supplements I try to educate patients on what a balanced diet is, and to try to keep physically active.
Ah, the famous ELEM diet: eat less, exercise more. It is, of course, the only one that provably works for almost everybody who tries it, and it is of course the one that is never promoted in the glossy supplements because there’s no money in it – and anyway who wants to hear that you can’t lose weight while continuing to eat, drink and sit on your arse all day.
The link for green tea actually links to green coffee. Have you any links which assess green tea?
correct 5/2 low carb are slight variations on the age old elem diet .. I’m on it and it’s unfortunately a way of life… over 50 either you cut back or face the consequences ..