Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

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

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and four manufacturers of commercial preparations containing chromium picolinate were asked to contribute published and unpublished studies.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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3

References

  1. World Health Organization. Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. World Health Organization: Geneva; 1998.

  2. National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity. Overweight, obesity and health risk. Arch Int Med 2000; 160: 898–904.

  3. Field AE, Coakley EH, Must A, Spadano JL, Laird N, Dietz WH, Rimm E, Colditz GA . Impact of overweight on the risk of developing common chronic diseases during a 10-year period. Arch Int Med 2001; 161: 1581–1586.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Key TJ, Allen NE, Spencer EA, Travis RC . The effect of diet on risk of cancer. Lancet 2002; 360: 861–868.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Kenchaiah S, Evans JC, Levy D, Wilson PWF, Benjamin EJ, Larson MG, Kannel WB, Vasan RS . Obesity and the risk of heart failure. N Engl J Med 2002; 347: 305–313.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Johnson CL . Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults 1999–2000. JAMA 2002; 288: 1723–1727.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Department of Health: Obesity. Reversing the increasing problem of obesity in England. DoH: UK: 1995.

  8. Taubes G . As obesity rates rise, experts struggle to explain why. Science 1998; 280: 1367–1368.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Prentice AM, Jebb SA . Obesity in Britain: gluttony or sloth? BMJ 1995; 311: 437–439.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Heini AF, Weinsier RL . Divergent trends in obesity and fat intake patterns: the American paradox. Am J Med 1997; 102: 259–264.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Anderson RA . Effects of chromium on body composition and weight loss. Nutr Rev 1998; 56: 266–270.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Offenbacher EG, Pi-Sunyer FX . Chromium in human nutrition. Ann Rev Nutr 1988; 8: 543–563.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Mertz W . Chromium in human nutrition: a review. J Nutr 1993; 123: 626–633.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Anderson RA . Essentiality of chromium in humans. Sci Total Environ 1989; 86: 75–81.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Pizzorno JE, Murray MT (eds). Textbook of natural medicine. Churchill Livingstone: London; 1999. pp 1434–1436.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Murray MT, Pizzorno JE (eds). Encyclopedia of natural medicine (2nd rev. edn). Prima Publishing: Rocklin; 1998. pp 690–691.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Murray MT (Ed). Encyclopedia of nutritional supplements. Prima Publishing: Rocklin, 1996. pp 317–319.

    Google Scholar 

  18. McManus RJ, Wilson S, Delaney BC, Fitzmaurice DA, Hyde CJ, Tobias RS, Jowett S, Hobbs FDR . Review of the usefulness of contacting other experts when conducting a literature search for systematic reviews. BMJ 1998; 317: 1562–1563.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Jadad AR, Moore RA, Carrol D, Jenkinson C, Reynolds DJM, Gavaghan DJ et al. Assessing the quality of reports of randomised clinical trials: is blinding necessary? Control Clin Trials 1996; 17: 1–12.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Follmann D, Elliott P, Suh I, Cutler J . Variance imputation for overviews of clinical trials with continuous response. J Clin Epidemiol 1992; 45: 769–773. Cited in: Clarke M, Oxman AD (eds). Cochrane Reviewers Handbook 4.1.5. In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 2. Update Software. Oxford; 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Volpe SL, Huang H-W, Larpadisorn K, Lesser II . Effect of chromium supplementation and exercise on body composition, resting metabolic rate and selected biochemical parameters in moderately obese women following an exercise program. J Am Coll Nutr 2001; 20: 293–306.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Kaats GR, Blum K, Pullin D, Keith SC, Wood R . A randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled study of the effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on body composition: a replication and extension of a previous study. Curr Ther Res 1998; 59: 379–388.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Kaats GR, Blum K, Fisher JA, Adelman JA . Effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on body composition: a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled study. Curr Ther Res 1996; 57: 747–756.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Walker LS, Bemben MG, Bemben DA, Knehans AW . Chromium picolinate effects on body composition and muscular performance in wrestlers. Med Sci Sports Exer 1998; 30: 1730–1737.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Livolsi JM, Adams GM, Laguna PL . The effect of chromium picolinate on muscular strength and body composition in women athletes. J Strength Cond Res 2001; 15: 161–166.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Campbell WW, Joseph LJO, Davey SL, Cyr-Campbell D, Anderson RA, Evans WJ . Effects of resistance training and chromium picolinate on body composition and skeletal muscle in older men. J Appl Physiol 1999; 86: 29–39.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Joseph LJO, Farrel PA, Davey SL, Evans WJ, Campbell WW . Effect of resistance training with or without chromium picolinate supplementation on glucose metabolism in older men and women. Metabolism 1999; 48: 546–553.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hasten DL, Rome EP, Franks BD, Hegsted M . Effects of chromium picolinate on beginning weight training students. Int J Sports Nutr 1992; 2: 343–350.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Hallmark MA, Reynolds TH, DeSouza CA, Dotson CO, Anderson RA, Rogers MA . Effects of chromium and resistive training on muscle strength and body composition. Med Sci Sports Exer 1996; 28: 139–144.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Grant KE, Chandler RM, Castle AL, Ivy JL . Chromium and exercise training: effect on obese women. Med Sci Sports Exer 1997; 29: 992–998.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Trent LK, Thieding-Cancel D . Effect of chromium picolinate on body composition. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 1995; 35: 273–280.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Lukaski HC, Bolonchuk WW, Siders WA, Milne DB . Chromium supplementation and resistance training: effects on body compositon, strength and trace element status of men. Am J Clin Nutr 1996; 63: 954–965.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Kaats GR, Wise JA, Blum K, Morin RJ, Adelman JA, Craig J, Croft HA . The short-term therapeutic efficacy of treating obesity with a plan of improved nutrition and moderate caloric restriction. Curr Ther Res 1992; 51: 261–275.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Davis JM, Welsh RS, Alderson NA . Effects of carbohydrate and chromium ingestion during intermittent high-intensity exercise to fatigue. Int J Sport Nutr Exer Metab 2000; 10: 476–485.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Blum K, Cull JG, Chen TJH, Garcia-Swan S, Holder JM, Wood R, Braverman ER, Bucci LR, Trachtenberg MC . Clinical evidence for effectiveness of phencal in maintaining weight loss in an open label, controlled 2-year study. Curr Ther Res 1997; 58: 745–763.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Wilson BE, Gondy A . Effects of chromium supplementation on fasting insulin levels and lipid parameters in healthy, non-obese young subjects. Diabetes Res Clin Res 1995; 28: 179–184.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Anderson RA, Polansky MM, Bryden NA, Roginski EE, Mertz W, Glinsmann W . Chromium supplementation of human subjects: effects on glucose, insulin and lipid variables. Metabolism 1983; 32: 894–899.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Pasman WJ, Westererp-Plantenga MS, Saris WHM . The effectiveness of long-term supplementation of carbohydrate, chromium, fibre, and caffeine on weight maintenance. Int J Obesity 1997; 21: 1143–1151.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Bahijri SM . Effect of chromium supplementation on glucose tolerance and lipid profile. Saudi Med J 2000; 21: 45–50.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Anderson RA, Roussel A-M, Zouari N, Mahjoub S, Matheau J-M, Kerkeni A . Potential antioxidant effects of zinc and chromium supplementation in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Am Coll Nutr 2001; 20: 212–218.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Amato P, Morales AJ, Yen SSC . Effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on insulin sensitivity serum lipids and body composition in healthy nonobese older men and women. J Gastroenterol 2000; 55A: M260–M263.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  42. Ravina A, Slezak L, Rubal A, Mirsky N . Clinical use of the trace element chromium (III) in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. J Trace Elements Exp Med 1995; 8: 183–190.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  43. Kaats GR, Ficher JA, Blum K . The effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on body composition in different age groups. Age 1991; 14: 138.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Campbell WW, Beard JL, Joseph LJ, Davey SL, Evans WJ . Chromium picolinate supplementation and resistive training by older men: effects on iron-status and hematologic indexes. Am J Clin Nutr 1997; 66: 944–949.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Lee NA, Reasner CA . Beneficial effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on serum triglyceride levels in NIDDM. Diabetes Care 1994; 17: 1449–1452.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Anderson RA, Cheng N, Bryden NA, Polansky MM, Cheng N, Chi J, Feng J . Elevated intakes of supplemental chromium improve glucose and insulin variables in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes 1997; 46: 1786–1791.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Clancy SP, Clarkson PM, DeCheke ME, Nosaka K, Freedson PS, Cunningham JJ, Valentine B . Effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on body composition, strength and urinary chromium loss in football players. Int J Sports Nutr 1994; 4: 142–153.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Press RI, Geller J, Evans GW . The effect of chromium picolinate on serum cholesterol and apolipoprotein fractions in human subjects. West J Med 1990; 152: 41–45.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  49. Bahadori B, Wallner S, Schneider H, Wascher TC, Toplak H . Effekt von Chromhefe und Chrompicolinat auf die Körperzusammensetzung bei übergewichtigen, nichtdiabetischen Patienten während und nach einer Formula-Diät. Acta Med Aust 1997; 24: 185–187.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  50. Evans GW . The effect of chromium picolinate on insulin controlled parameters in humans. Int J Biosocial Med Res 1989; 11: 163–180.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Cowburn G, Hillsdon M, Hankey CR . Obesity management by life-style strategies. Br Med Bull 1997; 53: 389–408.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Arterburn D, Hitchcock Noël P . Obesity. BMJ 2001; 322: 1406–1409.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Eisenberg DM, Davis RB, Ettner SL et al. Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States 1990–1997: results of a national follow-up survey. JAMA 1998; 280: 1569–1575.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Blanck HM, Khan LK, Serdula MK . Use of nonprescription weight loss products. Results from a multistate survey. JAMA 2001; 286: 930–935.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Egger G, Cameron-Smith D, Stanton R . The effectiveness of popular, non-prescription weight loss supplements. Med J Aust 1999; 171: 604–608.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  56. Allison DB, Fontaine KR, Heshka S, Mentore JL, Heymsfeld SB . Alternative treatments for weight loss: a critical review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2001; 41: 1–28.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Stearns DM, Wise JP, Patierno SR, Wetterhahn KE . Chromium(III) picolinate produces chromosome damage in Chinese hamster ovary cells. FASEB 1995; 9: 1643–1648.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Anderson RA, Bryden NA, Polansky NN . Lack of toxicity of chromium chloride and chromium picolinate in rats. J Am Coll Nutr 1997; 16: 273–279.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Kato I, Vogelman JH, Karkoszka J, Frenkel K, Durr NP, Orentreich N, Toniolo P . Effect of supplementation with chromium picolinate on antibody titers to 5-hydroxymethyl uracil. Eur J Epidemiol 1998; 14: 621–626.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Martin WR, Fuller R . Suspected chromium picolinate-induced rhabdomyolysis. Pharmacotherapy 1998; 18: 860–862.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  61. Scroggie DA, Harris M, Sakai L . Rhabdomyolysis associated with nutritional supplement use. J Clin Rheumatol 2000; 6: 328–332.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Cerulli J, Grabe DW, Gauthier I, Malone M, McGoldrick MD . Chromium picolinate toxicity. Ann Pharmacother 1998; 32: 428–431.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Young PC, Turiansky GW, Bonner MW, Benson PM . Acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis induced by chromium picolinate. J Am Acad Dermatol 1999; 41: 820–823.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Dickersin K . The existence of publication bias and risk factors for its occurrence. JAMA 1990; 263: 1385–1389.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Easterbrook PJ, Berlin JA, Gopalan R, Matthews DR . Publication bias in clinical research. Lancet 1991; 337: 867–872.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Egger M, Davey Smith G . Bias in location and selection of studies. BMJ 1998; 316: 61–66.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Ernst E, Pittler MH . Alternative therapy bias. Nature 1997; 385: 480.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Schmidt K, Pittler MH, Ernst E . Bias in alternative medicine is still rife but is diminishing. BMJ 2001; 323: 1071.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Pittler MH, Abbot NC, Harkness EF, Ernst E . Location bias in controlled clinical trials of complementary/alternative therapies. J Clin Epidemiol 2000; 53: 485–489.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Egger M, Zellweger-Zähner T, Schneider M, Junker C, Lengeler C, Antes G . Language bias in randomised controlled trials published in English and German. Lancet 1997; 350: 326–329.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Nieminen P, Isohanni M . Bias against European journals in medical publication databases. Lancet 1999; 353: 1592.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M H Pittler.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Pittler, M., Stevinson, C. & Ernst, E. Chromium picolinate for reducing body weight: Meta-analysis of randomized trials. Int J Obes 27, 522–529 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0802262

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0802262

Keywords

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

This article is cited by

Search

Quick links