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Randomized, double-blind trial of chitosan for body weight reduction


Background: Overweight and obesity is a prevalent and costly threat to public health. Compelling evidence links overweight and obesity with serious disorders such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Dietary regimen are notoriously burdened with poor compliance. Chitosan is promoted in the US and other countries as an oral remedy to reduce fat absorption and has now been incorporated as a major constituent into several over-the-counter remedies. The primary aim of this study is to investigate the clinical effectiveness of oral chitosan for body weight reduction.

Methods: Thirty-four overweight volunteers were included in a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind trial. Subjects were assigned to receive either four capsules of chitosan or indistinguishable placebo twice daily for 28 consecutive days. Measurements were taken at baseline, after 14 and 28 d of treatment. Subjects maintained their normal diet and documented the type and amount of food consumed. Adverse effects were assessed and compliance monitored.

Results: Data from 30 subjects were entered into an intention-to-treat analysis. After four weeks of treatment, body mass index, serum cholesterol, triglycerides, vitamin A, D, E and β-carotene were not significantly different in subjects receiving chitosan compared to those receiving placebo. Vitamin K was significantly increased after four weeks in the chitosan group compared with placebo (P<0.05). Compliance was 91.5% and 96.0% for chitosan and placebo groups respectively.

Conclusion: The above data suggest that chitosan in the administered dosage, without dietary alterations, does not reduce body weight in overweight subjects. No serious adverse effects were reported.

Sponsorship: Marshtech Ltd, London.

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Pittler, M., Abbot, N., Harkness, E. et al. Randomized, double-blind trial of chitosan for body weight reduction. Eur J Clin Nutr 53, 379–381 (1999).

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  • overweight
  • obesity
  • chitosan
  • nutrition
  • complementary medicine

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