Dubai: Struggling to lose weight? If your attempts at dieting or introducing exercise into your lifestyle fail consistently, you may be tempted to try out weight loss supplements that might pop up on your social media timeline, endorsed by your favourite influencer.
However, it is important to sift the facts from fiction when it comes to claims that are made by such supplements. Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health (DOH) has posted an awareness guide on its website, helping residents understand what these supplements contain and whether they can truly be effective in losing weight. Here is all you need to know.
What do weight loss products contain?
According to the DOH guide, weight loss products contain many ingredients like herbs, fibres and minerals in different amounts and in many combinations.
They are sold in different pharmaceutical dosage forms such as capsules, tablets, liquids, and powders.
Many people use weight loss supplements as a quick and easy way to slim down and lose weight without considering a reasonable diet programme or exercise.
Many users do not have enough knowledge about the components of these products and the health risks and damage they can cause, especially with the widespread availability through their sales at various nutrition stores, online or on social networking sites.
How effective are they?
Weight reduction products can be classified according to their effect as follows:
1. Products that has no effect
There is limited information about these products, and the evidence of their claimed benefits is based on a small number of unapproved studies.
Ideally, several research studies are required in order to determine the safety and effectiveness of these products.
These products are marketed as products that are not fake, are completely safe and have no side effects. However, in reality, they are not effective and have no benefit.
Such products are considered useless and a waste of time and effort.
2. Products with limited effects
These products may help in losing weight, but their effect is often limited and not remarkable, especially if their use is not accompanied by a healthy lifestyle and an appropriate diet. According to scientific studies, most of these products have a temporary effect, as they may have a clear effect in reducing weight at first, but over time, their effectiveness decreases and goes away.
Also, while such products may be effective, they can be risky when used by patients with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes or blood, kidney and liver diseases. In addition, these should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation as they can cause severe complications or side effects.
In general, it is necessary to seek medical advice before using weight loss products.
3. Products that are not safe to use
Some of the products are marketed as being effective in reducing weight, but in reality, they are adulterated products with chemicals or substances that are not disclosed and are not included as an active ingredient of the product. For example, the addition of substances that have been been banned from the market because of the serious health problems they caused or the addition of some medications and hormones that have the effect of reducing weight, but they should not be used except in certain medical conditions with fixed doses and only under medical supervision.
So, how can I stay safe?
The guide provides the following advice:
• Remember that dietary supplements might contain several ingredients that have different effects, which might cause dangerous drug-to-drug interactions.
• Do not hesitate to speak with your health care provider before starting to use weight loss supplements. Discuss potential benefits and risks, especially if you are suffering from any health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, liver and kidney disease or heart disease.
• Read about the dietary supplement before using it as it may contain a component that has a similar effect to one of your medicines.
• Check the quality of the dietary supplement before using it; make sure to buy it from authorised selling outlets such as pharmacies and nutritional supplement stores. Beware of buying nutritional supplements from unknown sources through the internet or social media.
• Beware of falsified and eye-catching claims, such as “magic diet pills”, “burn the fat and lose weight without diet or exercise”. If it is difficult to believe, it is also in fact difficult to achieve.
• Weight loss supplements can be expensive and may not be effective. The best way to lose weight and maintain it, is to follow a healthy, nutritional integrated diet, drink enough water, reduce calories, and exercise regularly.
How to check for adulterated substances
In case you need to use any supplement, make sure it is safe and free from adulterated substances.
You can always ask your healthcare professional, ask for advice from the drug information service at 800424 or view the latest safety warnings on supplements from the Department of Health, here - https://www.doh.gov.ae/en/resources/Adulterated-Products