Many Weight Loss Supplements Still Contain Banned or Discouraged Ingredients

Posted 02 September 2016

New research shows that many weight loss supplements readily available to consumers contain at least one ingredient, such as ephedra or dimethylamylamine (DMAA), that is banned by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) or is advised against for use in dietary supplements. Fifty-one products were identified from retail stores with at least one banned or discouraged-use ingredient on the product label. Ingredients were identified as “discouraged-use” based on adverse event reporting on the FDA website. Out of the 51 products, 33% contained at least one ingredient that is banned and 90% contained at least one ingredient that is discouraged. Sports and nutrition retail stores offered the greatest number of products with banned or discouraged-use ingredients.

Source: Integrative Medicine Newsletter


Eichner S, Maguire M, Shea LA, et al. Banned and discouraged-use ingredients found in weight loss supplements. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2016. pii: S1544-3191(16)30028-0.

J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2016 Jul 27. pii: S1544-3191(16)30028-0. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2016.03.013. [Epub ahead of print]

Banned and discouraged-use ingredients found in weight loss supplements.

Eichner S, Maguire M, Shea LA, Fete MG.



To identify banned and discouraged-use ingredients, such as ephedra, 1,3-dimethylamylamine, and beta-methyl-phenylethylamine, in readily available weight loss dietary supplements within a 10-mile radius of Regis University.


A list of banned and discouraged-use ingredients was compiled with the use of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dietary supplement website which provides information on supplement ingredients that are no longer legal or are advised against owing to adverse event reporting. Investigators visited all retail outlet stores within a 10-mile radius of Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Retail chains were not duplicated and only one of each chain was evaluated.


A total of 51 weight loss supplement products from retail stores were found with banned or discouraged-use substances listed on their labels. At least one banned ingredient was found to be listed on the product labels in 17 of the 51 studied supplements (33%). At least one discouraged-use ingredient was found in 46 of the 51 products (90%). Retail outlet stores dedicated to supplements and sports nutrition alone were found to have the greatest number of weight loss supplements that included banned and discouraged-use ingredients.


The FDA has taken action to remove some weight loss supplements from the market that contain banned ingredients. Unfortunately, based on the findings of this study, it is evident that products containing these ingredients remain on the market today.

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