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National Institutes of Health • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NCCAM Clinical Digest

Weight Loss and Complementary Health Practices

June 2013
Person standing on a weight scale.

More than two-thirds of adults and one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese. Achieving a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and being physically active can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar—and may also help prevent weight-related diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as you know.

Your patients may ask you about complementary health approaches for losing weight, such as dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, which are available in supermarkets, pharmacies, health food stores, and the Internet. Although patients may be tempted by the “quick fix” claims of these products, most of these products haven’t been proven safe or effective. Two important safety concerns about dietary supplements for weight loss are the possibilities of drug interactions and product contamination. This issue provides information on “what the science says” about a few popular dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, including acai, bitter orange, ephedra, and green tea, as well as several mind and body practices that are being studied for weight loss.

Read more about what the science says

TTT Tips: 7 Things To Know About Complementary Health Practices for Weight Loss

Clinical Guidelines

Scientific Literature

NCCAM Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NIH, DHHS. NCCAM Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on CAM, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCAM-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, training CAM researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM's Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCAM Web site at nccam.nih.gov. NCCAM is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

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Content is in the public domain and may be reprinted, except if marked as copyrighted (©). Please credit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as the source. All copyrighted material is the property of its respective owners and may not be reprinted without their permission.

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