Could capsaicinoids help to support weight management? A systematic review and meta-analysis of energy intake data

Appetite. 2014 Feb:73:183-8. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.11.005. Epub 2013 Nov 15.


Objective: Capsaicinoids are a group of chemicals naturally occurring in chilli peppers with bioactive properties that may help to support weight management. The aim of the present study was to conduct a meta-analysis investigating the potential effects of capsaicinoids on energy intake, to clarify previous observations and form evidence-based conclusions about possible weight management roles.

Methods: Medical databases (Medline, Web of Knowledge and Scopus) were systematically searched for papers. Search terms were: 'capsaicin(*)' or 'red pepper' or 'chilli(*)' or 'chili(*)' with 'satiety' or 'energy intake'. Of the seventy-four clinical trials identified, 10 were included, 8 of which provided results suitable to be combined in analysis (191 participants). From the studies, 19 effect sizes were extracted and analysed using MIX meta-analysis software.

Results: Data analysis showed that capsaicinoid ingestion prior to a meal reduced ad libitum energy intake by 309.9kJ (74.0kcal) p<0.001 during the meal. Results, however, should be viewed with some caution as heterogeneity was high (I(2)=75.7%). Study findings suggest a minimum dose of 2mg of capsaicinoids is needed to contribute to reductions in ad libitum energy intake, which appears to be attributed to an altered preference for carbohydrate-rich foods over foods with a higher fat content.

Conclusions: Meta-anlysis findings suggest that daily consumption of capsaicinoids may contribute to weight management through reductions in energy intake. Subsequently, there may be potential for capsaicinoids to be used as long-term, natural weight-loss aids. Further long-term randomised trials are now needed to investigate these effects.

Keywords: Capsaicin; Capsaicinoids; Chili; Chilli; Energy intake; Weight management.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Capsaicin / therapeutic use*
  • Capsicum / chemistry*
  • Energy Intake / drug effects*
  • Food Preferences / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Weight Loss / drug effects*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Capsaicin