Background: Obesity is a global public health threat. Chromium picolinate (CrP) is advocated in the medical literature for the reduction of bodyweight, and preparations are sold as slimming aids in the USA and Europe, and on the Internet.
Objectives: To assess the effects of CrP supplementation in overweight or obese people.
Search methods: We searched The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, ISI Web of Knowledge, the Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, the China Journal Full text Database and the Chinese Scientific Journals Full text Database (all databases to December 2012), as well as other sources (including databases of ongoing trials, clinical trials registers and reference lists).
Selection criteria: We included trials if they were randomised controlled trials (RCT) of CrP supplementation in people who were overweight or obese.We excluded studies including children, pregnant women or individuals with serious medical conditions.
Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently screened titles and abstracts for relevance. Screening for inclusion, data extraction and 'Risk of bias'assessment were carried out by one author and checked by a second. We assessed the risk of bias by evaluating the domains selection,performance, attrition, detection and reporting bias. We performed a meta-analysis of included trials using Review Manager 5.
Main results: We evaluated nine RCTs involving a total of 622 participants. The RCTs were conducted in the community setting, with interventions mainly delivered by health professionals, and had a short- to medium-term follow up (up to 24 weeks). Three RCTs compared CrPplus resistance or weight training with placebo plus resistance or weight training, the other RCTs compared CrP alone versus placebo.We focused this review on investigating which dose of CrP would prove most effective versus placebo and therefore assessed the results according to CrP dose. However, in order to find out if CrP works in general, we also analysed the effect of all pooled CrP doses versus placebo on body weight only.Across all CrP doses investigated (200 μg, 400 μg, 500 μg, 1000 μg) we noted an effect on body weight in favour of CrP of debatable clinical relevance after 12 to 16 weeks of treatment: mean difference (MD) -1.1 kg (95% CI -1.7 to -0.4); P = 0.001; 392 participants;6 trials; low-quality evidence (GRADE)). No firm evidence and no dose gradient could be established when comparing different doses of CrP with placebo for various weight loss measures (body weight, body mass index, percentage body fat composition, change in waist circumference).Only three studies provided information on adverse events (low-quality evidence (GRADE)). There were two serious adverse events and study dropouts in participants taking 1000 μg CrP, and one serious adverse event in an individual taking 400 μg CrP. Two participants receiving placebo discontinued due to adverse events; one event was reported as serious. No study reported on all-cause mortality,morbidity, health-related quality of life or socioeconomic effects.
Authors' conclusions: We found no current, reliable evidence to inform firm decisions about the efficacy and safety of CrP supplements in overweight or obese adults.