The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than one in three Americans can be labeled as obese.
Not overweight. Not slightly pudgy. Obese.
This puts these individuals at risk for serious health conditions like heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, even raising their risk of cancer. Obesity can also affect people financially as individuals who are obese pay out roughly $1,429 more in medical costs than those who are able to achieve and maintain a healthier weight.
In fairness, society as a whole appears to searching for ways to combat this level of obesity with many health professionals promoting their own version of a weight-reducing dietary plan. Fitness experts are doing the same, providing exercise-related recommendations, and still others are otherwise utilizing their knowledge, training, and experience in this field to help people who are intent on dropping a few extra pounds.
It is the dropping of this rather minimal amount of weight that is critical as the CDC indicates that even a 5-10 percent weight loss can provide physical health benefits with regard to blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. It helps mentally as well, often resulting in improved moods and higher levels of self-confidence.
Certainly, diet and exercise are important to achieving this goal, but one additional option that can potentially help those who want to lower their weight naturally in an effort to achieve a higher quality of life is supplementation.
The use of supplements for natural weight loss
Merriam-Webster defines a supplement as “something that completes or makes an addition.” Thus, supplements are intended to add certain ingredients or substances to a person’s body to give them everything they need to achieve their health-related goal which, in this case, is weight loss. Statistics indicate that these supplements are a relatively sought-after solution.
According to data provided by the Office of Dietary Supplements, roughly 15 percent of Americans have tried a weight loss supplement, with women using this method twice as often as men (21 percent versus 10 percent). In fact, weight loss supplements alone account for $2.1 billion dollars in sales each and every year.
A few of the most common ingredients in all-natural weight loss supplements include:
- Bitter orange
- Garcinia cambogia
- Green tea extract
- Raspberry ketone
- Vitamin D
What does research have to say about how well these weight loss supplements work? The answer to that question depends largely on the ingredients themselves, as well as the studies performed.
Natural weight loss supplement research
For instance, in 2012, the International Journal of Medical Sciences published a review of 20 studies that were conducted on citrus aurantium, also known as bitter orange. After carefully analyzing all of the data, it was concluded that individuals who took this ingredient for 6 to 12 weeks were able to achieve “modest increases in weight loss.”
In one of the studies referenced, this weight loss amount was around 1.4 kg (3.09 pounds), a number the researchers described as “small but significant.” In others, the weight lost was higher, such as one 10-week study which resulted in an average reduction of 4.63 kg (10.21 pounds). Studies on other supplements have found similar positive results.
For example, a study in the International Journal of Obesity looked at 11 research-based articles on green tea catechins, ultimately reporting that, overall, they “have a small positive effect” on both weight loss and maintenance. However, some pieces of research on other ingredients have found less promising results.
A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was one. This particular research looked at whether vitamin D helped induce weight loss. After 12 months of supplementation, participants taking the vitamin D lost 8.2 percent of their weight, whereas those given a placebo lost a slightly higher amount, or 8.4 percent.
While this doesn’t look as positive as other studies, it should also be noted that the women taking the actual vitamin D supplements only attended 56.1 percent of their diet counseling sessions. Those in the placebo group didn’t do much better, with 59.5 percent. Both groups also failed to return their weekly journals approximately three out of four times as well. Therefore, it’s difficult to ascertain whether the vitamin D had any real effect or whether there were dietary forces at play.
The big picture
Though natural supplements can help enhance or speed up the weight loss process, it’s important for patients to see the big picture, that losing weight involves more than just taking a pill, that diet and physical activity matter as well. So, while it can help to take an all-natural weight loss supplement, this is just one component of healthy living, one piece in the healthy-life puzzle.
All in all, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight involves addressing many areas and, often, making many lifestyle changes within them. By taking this all-encompassing approach though, true and lasting change is able to occur, to their health as well as to their waistlines.