According to a 2010 study released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), one-third of the world’s population in overweight. Rates in obesity are expected to rise steadily with predictions of 58 percent world-wide obesity by 2030. Health risks associated with obesity include heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke. Numerous other chronic illnesses are also associated with obesity. Not surprisingly, weight loss products proliferate the market as more people attempt to shed unwanted pounds.
As more and more consumers turn to weight loss supplements to fight obesity, risks associated with products present challenges in maintaining weight loss and optimal health. Weight loss supplements can be obtained with a prescription or over-the-counter. Supplements interact with the body in various ways to facilitate weight loss. Fat binders, carbohydrate blockers, and appetite suppressants make up a majority of products. Some herbal teas may also aid in weight loss.
Metabolism boosters, or fat burners, comprise the majority of weight loss products. Synthesized products are available, along with natural metabolism boosters such as green tea. Aerobic exercise potentiates the effects of metabolism boosters, which increases the rate of weight loss.
Fat binders work by attaching to fat cells which prohibits absorption by the intestines. Usually taken with meals, fat binders should be avoided by people with digestive problems such as irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) or Chron’s disease. Fat plays an important role in health, especially omega 3s, and should not be totally eliminated from the diet. Keep in mind that absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D and E may be adversely affected and lead to vitamin deficiencies with long-term use of fat blockers. Bloating, nausea and diarrhea are common side effects associated with fat binders.
Carb blockers inhibit the release of digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates for absorption into the body’s system. Chitosan, a common ingredient in carb blockers, works similarly to fat burners by absorbing fat. After being absorbed by chitosan, fat continues through the digestive system and is eliminated. For weight loss, carb blockers are ingested before meals. To maintain weight, carb blockers should only be taken with meals that contain high levels of carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates provide energy and should not be completely eliminated from the diet.
Appetite suppressants reduce hunger in several different ways depending on type of suppressant. Noradrenergics affect the body’s epinephrine and norepinephrine hormones by signaling the brain to increase heart rate and blood pressure which interrupt hunger signals. These drugs work similarly to amphetamines and may increase energy levels that are comparable to levels reached during the body’s fight-or-flight response. Excessive use may also lead to depletion or overproduction of hormones which can cause symptoms of exhaustion and nervousness.
Anorctic appetite suppressants also effect hormone levels in the body, specifically serotonin. Anorctics are taken with meals to provide a sensation of being full before much food is consumed. Because serotonin levels are important for psychological well-being, most anorctics require a prescription and doctor’s supervision.