Home » Weight Management: Hot Claims to Cool Substantiation
July 2011/NutraSolutions -- The proliferation of weight-loss products continues, as each new national health report further attests to the mounting weight problems in the U.S. As the demand from consumers for weight-loss products to combat weight issues rapidly increases, the promotion of weight-loss products has spread to include a wide range of food and beverage products—an area that has been heavily trodden by the dietary supplement industry. Industry companies are studying new ingredients and combinations of ingredients, as well as devising innovative methods for achieving weight loss, to meet this growing demand. Recently, this research and development has led to an increase in weight-loss claims emphasizing satiety and appetite suppression, as opposed to the historical fat-burning claims. As these novel methods are explored and utilized, companies must remember that proper substantiation is essential for each of their weight-loss claims. Trendy Ingredients and Popular Claims
Ephedra was the “wonder ingredient” of weight-loss products in the 1990s and early 2000s. Ephedra was notable for its role as both a stimulant and a thermogenic, causing an increase in heart rate and metabolism, both of which can facilitate rapid weight loss. Unfortunately, ephedra was also notorious for the number of adverse events associated with ephedra-containing products, resulting in the eventual ban by the FDA of its use in dietary supplements in 2004. Immediately after the ban, dietary supplement companies focused tremendous energy on finding a legal and safe replacement for ephedra. Bitter orange was one of the popular natural ingredients put forth as a possible replacement to ephedra, although similar concerns about potential side effects swirled around this ingredient. Various forms of caffeine were also touted as potential substitutes that could produce results similar to products containing ephedra. However, in recent years, the direction of many weight-loss products and claims has shifted away from the emphasis on increasing energy and heart rate. Instead, many weight-loss products have moved towards claims with a focus on satiety, appetite suppression and thermogenesis. Satiety is the condition of being full or gratified beyond the point of satisfaction; or, simply put, the absence of hunger. Essentially, if someone feels full, the physical urge to eat is generally reduced. Research indicates that satiety is regulated by hormones. The hormone leptin increases as one eats, typically resulting in a reduction of one’s motivation to eat. After satiety has been achieved, and leptin production stops, leptin levels drop over a period of time, causing the release of a secondary hormone, ghrelin, which initiates the feeling of hunger. Accordingly, some ingredients that affect the production of these hormones have been identified as effective for use in weight-loss products.