Do dietary supplements help promote weight loss?

J Diet Suppl. 2009;6(1):33-53. doi: 10.1080/19390210802687171.


As two-thirds of the US population is overweight or obese, new strategies are needed to help individuals safely and effectively lose weight. One option is to use dietary supplements, but not all supplements that are touted for weight loss have published clinical support for efficacy. The purpose of this article was to identify all published articles on dietary supplements for weight loss. Effectiveness of these supplements was defined as promoting 1-2 lb of weight loss each week. Although several dozen different dietary supplements are sold, only 14 published studies were identified. Four individual ingredients and three blends of ingredients were considered to be effective. Additionally, we compared weight loss from these dietary supplements to over-the-counter (OTC) orlistat (alli™, GlaxoSmithKline, Brentford, UK). Five single ingredients and three blends of ingredients produced more weight loss than OTC orlistat. Persons who use dietary supplements for weight management, counsel patients on how to lose weight, and retailers who sell dietary supplements, should become familiar with those supplements only that are effective at producing weight loss to assure the best results.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Citrates / pharmacology
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Lactones / pharmacology
  • Micronutrients / pharmacology*
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Orlistat
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Picolinic Acids / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Weight Loss / drug effects*


  • Citrates
  • Lactones
  • Micronutrients
  • Picolinic Acids
  • Plant Extracts
  • hydroxycitric acid
  • Orlistat
  • picolinic acid