Evidence lacking for “alternative” weight-loss therapies

Posted 07 July 2021

A systematic review of published research evaluating the efficacy of dietary supplements and “alternative therapies” for weight loss among people at least 18 years of age has found that supportive evidence is weak. Many clinical trials were also hampered by a significant risk of bias due to inconsistent testing methods. Problems with studies include small sample sizes, short follow-up periods, and poor study designs.
Reference: Batsis JA. A systematic review of dietary supplements and alternative therapies for weight loss. Obesity, June 23, 2021

Key findings included:

  • Out of 315 randomized controlled trials included in the review, 52 were classified as having a low risk of bias, of which 16 demonstrated significant weight changes for tested therapies compared to placebo.
  • No high-quality evidence supported acupuncture, calcium-vitamin D supplementation, chocolate/cocoa, phenylpropanolamineguar gumPhaseolus vulgarispyruvate, and mind-body interventions as weight-loss
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CLA supplement linked to hepatitis case

Posted 14 September 2015

A 26-year-old woman who had recently lost approximately 23 kg was admitted to hospital with stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. She had started taking conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplements, which are often advertised as being able to reduce body fat, one week prior. She was ultimately diagnosed with the first case of hepatitis associated with CLA supplement use in the United States. This is only the third documented case worldwide.


Bilal M, Patel Y, Burkitt M, Babich M. Linoleic Acid Induced Acute Hepatitis: A Case Report and Review of the Literature. Case Reports Hepatol. 2015;2015:807354.

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