oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Herbal weight-loss products : how informed are we? : short reports

Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1607-0658
  • E-ISSN: 2221-1268



Non-prescription, weight-loss products are advertised as quick-solution alternatives to long-term lifestyle changes.

Cross-sectional descriptive.
Free State province.
Fifty-six dieticians registered to the Free State branch of the Association of Dietetics in South Africa, excluding lecturers and students, and 88 pharmacists working in the Bloemfontein area.
Structured telephonic interviews were conducted with 25 dieticians and 46 pharmacists to ascertain whether or not they had heard of the individual ingredients listed in non-prescription, weight-loss products and if they knew if each of these ingredients were scientifically proven to induce weight loss.
Most dieticians and pharmacists reported that they had heard of green tea extract (92% and 89%), chromium picolinate (76% and 59%), apple cider vinegar (100% and 96%), lemon juice (100% and 87%) and alcohol (100% and 91%), respectively, being ingredients in weight-loss products. More dieticians and pharmacists reported that, to their knowledge, green tea extract (52% vs. 26%), chromium picolinate (52% vs. 15%), apple cider vinegar (64% vs. 33%), lemon juice (80% vs. 64%) and alcohol (76% vs. 61%), were not scientifically proven to be effective in attaining weight loss. Both groups included a percentage who were not familiar with the ingredients, or who thought that these ingredients had been demonstrated to be effective, despite no conclusive evidence existing in the literature.
Healthcare professionals need to actively educate themselves about non-prescription weight-loss products in order to guide the public and reduce consumer confusion.

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