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

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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.

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Obesity Programs of nutrition, Education, Research and Assessment (OPERA) group members served as collaborators and approved the final version of the manuscript: Annamaria Colao, Antonio Aversa, Barbara Altieri, Luigi Angrisani, Giuseppe Annunziata, Rocco Barazzoni, Luigi Barrea, Giuseppe Bellastella, Bernadette Biondi, Elena Cantone, Brunella Capaldo, Sara Cassarano, Rosario Cuomo, Luigi Di Luigi, Andrea Di Nisio, Carla Di Somma, Ludovico Docimo, Katherine Esposito, Carlo Foresta, Pietro Forestieri, Alessandra Gambineri, Francesco Garifalos, Cristiano Giardiello, Carla Giordano, Francesco Giorgino, Dario Giugliano, Daniela Laudisio, Davide Lauro, Andrea Lenzi, Silvia Magno, Paolo Macchia, MariaIda Maiorino, Emilio Manno, Chiara Marocco, Paolo Marzullo, Chiara Mele, Davide Menafra, Silvia Migliaccio, Marcello Monda, Filomena Morisco, Fabrizio Muratori, Giovanna Muscogiuri, Mario Musella, Gerardo Nardone, Claudia Oriolo, Uberto Pagotto, Pasquale Perrone Filardi, Luigi Piazza, Rosario Pivonello, Barbara Polese, Paolo Pozzilli, Giulia Puliani, Stefano Radellini, Gabriele Riccardi, Domenico Salvatore, Ferruccio Santini, Giovanni Sarnelli, Lorenzo Scappaticcio, Silvia Savastano, Bruno Trimarco, Dario Tuccinardi, Paola Vairano, Nunzia Verde, Roberto Vettor.


This article is published as part of a supplement funded by Endocrinology Unit, Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, University Federico II, Naples, Italy.

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The authors’ responsibilities were as follows: LB, BA, BP, and BDC: were responsible for the concept of this paper and drafted the manuscript; GM, AC, and SS: provided a critical review of the paper.

Correspondence to Luigi Barrea.

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