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Popular Over-the-Counter Diet Aids - Topic Overview

There are many over-the-counter products for weight loss. Individual products often contain several ingredients. Some contain 20 or more. It's important to read the label before you buy.

The one thing all these ingredients have in common is that none of them have been proved to be both safe and effective. And taking any diet aid makes it hard for you to listen to your hunger signals so that you can have a normal relationship with food.

Most over-the-counter diet aids don't work. And those that do work come with warnings about their safety. Doctors don't recommend any of them.

Diet aid

What it claims to do

Is there evidence that it works?

Is it safe for most people?

Alli Blocks fat from the food you eatYesMay cause side effects
Bitter orange Burns caloriesNoMay cause side effects
Caffeine Lowers appetiteNoYes
ChitosanBlocks fat from the food you eatNoMay cause health problems
ChromiumBurns fatNoMay cause side effects
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)Burns fat, lowers appetiteA littleMild to moderate side effects
DandelionIncreases amount of urine so you lose water weightA littleMay cause health problems
EphedraBurns caloriesYesNo; banned in U.S.
FucoxanthinBurns calories and fatNoYes
GlucomannanActs as a laxative to absorb water, so you feel full soonerA littleYes
Green teaBurns fatA littleYes
Guar gumLowers appetiteNoYes
GuaranaLowers appetiteYesYes
GuggulAids weight lossA littleMay cause side effects
HoodiaLowers appetiteNoUnknown
Hydroxycitric acid (HCA)Lowers appetiteNoMay cause side effects
PsylliumActs as a laxative to absorb water, so you feel full soonerNoYes
PyruvateBurns caloriesA littleMay cause side effects
Spirulina (blue-green algae)Lowers appetiteNoMay cause side effects
Yerba matéLowers appetiteNoMay cause health problems

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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