Banned and discouraged-use ingredients found in weight loss supplements

J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2016 Sep-Oct;56(5):538-43. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2016.03.013. Epub 2016 Jul 27.


Objectives: To identify banned and discouraged-use ingredients, such as ephedra, 1,3-dimethylamylamine, and beta-methyl-phenylethylamine, in readily available weight loss dietary supplements within a 10-mile radius of Regis University.

Methods: A list of banned and discouraged-use ingredients was compiled with the use of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dietary supplement website which provides information on supplement ingredients that are no longer legal or are advised against owing to adverse event reporting. Investigators visited all retail outlet stores within a 10-mile radius of Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Retail chains were not duplicated and only one of each chain was evaluated.

Results: A total of 51 weight loss supplement products from retail stores were found with banned or discouraged-use substances listed on their labels. At least one banned ingredient was found to be listed on the product labels in 17 of the 51 studied supplements (33%). At least one discouraged-use ingredient was found in 46 of the 51 products (90%). Retail outlet stores dedicated to supplements and sports nutrition alone were found to have the greatest number of weight loss supplements that included banned and discouraged-use ingredients.

Conclusion: The FDA has taken action to remove some weight loss supplements from the market that contain banned ingredients. Unfortunately, based on the findings of this study, it is evident that products containing these ingredients remain on the market today.

MeSH terms

  • Amines / chemistry*
  • Amphetamines / chemistry*
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / standards
  • Colorado
  • Dietary Supplements / standards*
  • Ephedra / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration
  • Weight Loss


  • 1,3-dimethylamylamine
  • Amines
  • Amphetamines
  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • beta-methylphenyl-ethylamine