oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Herbal weight-loss products : how informed are we? : short reports
Objective: Non-prescription, weight-loss products are advertised as quick-solution alternatives to long-term lifestyle changes.
Design: Cross-sectional descriptive.
Setting: Free State province.
Subjects: 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.
Outcome measures: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusion: 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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