Nutritionist and obesity: brief overview on efficacy, safety, and drug interactions of the main weight-loss dietary supplements

Int J Obes Suppl. 2019 Apr;9(1):32-49. doi: 10.1038/s41367-019-0007-3. Epub 2019 Apr 12.


Over the past 20 years the use of dietary supplements as adjuvant therapy for weight loss gained growing favor among consumers and dietician-nutritionists, with the subsequent astounding increase in health costs. Despite the reassuring label of natural remedy for losing weight, dietary supplements contain a wide variety of ingredients on which available information is rather scanty and scientifically incomplete. Currently, there is little evidence that weight-loss supplements offer effective aids to reduce weight and meet criteria for recommended use. Robust, randomized, placebo-controlled studies to provide clear-cut scientific evidence of their efficacy and potential side effects in clinical practice are still lacking. Understanding the evidence for the efficacy, safety, and quality of these supplements among nutritionists and physicians is critical to counsel patients appropriately, especially considering the risk of serious adverse effects and interference with concomitant therapies. Detailed information on the efficacy and safety of the most commonly used weight-loss dietary supplements has been recently published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, in this report the thorny issue that may result from drug interactions with weight-loss dietary supplements has been not sufficiently addressed. The aim of this review was to provide a synthetic, evidence-based report on efficacy and safety of the most commonly used ingredients in dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, particularly focusing on their possible drug interactions.

Publication types

  • Review