Paper

International Journal of Obesity (2003) 27, 522–529. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802262

Chromium picolinate for reducing body weight: Meta-analysis of randomized trials

M H Pittler1, C Stevinson2 and E Ernst1

  1. 1Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Exeter, UK
  2. 2Department of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

Correspondence: MH Pittler, Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT, UK. E-mail: M.H.Pittler@exeter.ac.uk

Received 8 May 2002; Revised 24 October 2002; Accepted 9 December 2002.

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Abstract

The aim of this meta-analysis was to assess the evidence of chromium picolinate for reducing body weight. Literature searches were conducted on Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, Amed and Ciscom. Nine experts and four manufacturers of commercial preparations containing chromium picolinate were asked to contribute published and unpublished studies. There were no restrictions regarding the language of publication. The screening of studies, selection, data extraction, validation and the assessment of methodological quality were performed independently by two reviewers. To be included, studies were required to state that they were randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled, and report on body weight. Ten trials met all inclusion criteria and provided data, which were suitable for statistical pooling. For body weight a significant differential effect was found in favour of chromium picolinate (weighted mean difference: -1.1 kg; 95% confidence interval (CI): -1.8 to -0.4 kg, n=489). Sensitivity analysis suggests that this effect is largely dependent on the results of a single trial (weighted mean difference: -0.9 kg; 95% CI: -2.0 to 0.2 kg, n=335). Three of the reviewed trials reported on adverse events, indicating their absence in the treatment groups. In conclusion, our meta-analysis suggests a relatively small effect of chromium picolinate compared with placebo for reducing body weight. The clinical relevance of the effect is debatable and the lack of robustness means that the result has to be interpreted with caution.

Keywords:

alternative medicine, dietary supplements, chromium picolinate, obesity, weight loss, slimming

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