The Australian regulator has banned FatBlaster Max, an over-the-counter pill that claims (no evidence) to help you lose weight.
FatBlaster Max can no longer be purchased, after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) found that the company behind the pills registered the drug without mentioning the weight loss properties and did not produce any evidence to confirm its announced statement that caused weight loss.
The ban has once again targeted over-the-counter weight loss pills, shedding light on an unregulated area that is hugely popular. Studies show that one in seven people has tried an over-the-counter weight loss pill, no doubt seduced by its promises to help people lose weight easily and quickly.
But do over-the-counter weight loss pills really work? Here’s everything you need to know about weight loss supplements that are currently claimed by a large part of the Australian $ 1 billion weight loss industry.
What exactly are over-the-counter weight loss pills?
Generally speaking, over-the-counter pills are anything you buy from an over-the-counter pharmacist, such as cold and flu remedies and paracetamol. Some over-the-counter medications are also available at retail stores, such as supermarkets, gas stations, and health food stores.
Over-the-counter weight loss pills are essentially dietary and herbal supplements that are marketed and sold with claims to help with weight loss.
The important distinction between over-the-counter and over-the-counter weight loss medications prescribed by a doctor is that prescription weight loss medications, like all pharmaceutical medications, must go through clinical trials and provide Australia’s drug regulator tests its effectiveness and safety.
Read more: Fat Blaster can give you weight loss to die for
Worryingly, distributors of over-the-counter pills and dietary supplements are not required to produce any evidence of the effectiveness and safety of their products before they reach the Australian market. The TGA only requires them to have, but not necessarily make freely available, evidence to substantiate their claims.
How do over-the-counter weight loss pills help you lose weight?
Over-the-counter weight loss pills often claim to have a variety of natural or herbal ingredients that help you lose weight in one of four ways:
suppressing your appetite or making you feel full using ingredients like a tropical fruit called Garcinia cambogia or glucomannan, a dietary fiber made from the root of the konjac plant.
accelerating the body’s metabolism and ability to burn fat through components such as the herb Ephedra sinica or a fatty acid (conjugated linoleic acid) found in meat and dairy products.
blocking your body’s ability to digest things like carbohydrates and fat using Phaseolus vulgaris (also known as common beans) or a variety of green tea leaves called Camellia sinensis
absorbing the fat from the food you eat, based on ingredients like chitosan, a product created with the shell of crustaceans and insects.
Do these pills work to lose weight?
In a word: no.
Most advertising for weight loss pills and over-the-counter dietary supplements will proudly state that a product’s results are supported by “clinical trials” and “scientific evidence,” but the reality is that a lot of studies independents do not support these claims.
Independent studies do not support over-the-counter weight loss claims. Shutterstock
Two recent studies from the University of Sydney looked at data from more than 120 placebo-controlled trials of herbal and dietary supplements for weight loss, including products containing the ingredients described above. None of the supplements provided clinically significant weight loss.
If they don’t work, why are they allowed to sell?
Since there are few or no controls and even less responsibility compared to prescription weight loss medications, the researchers ’findings should come as no surprise.
Recent studies suggest that weight loss supplement companies have performed very few high quality studies. Many trials are too small, poorly designed, and do not accurately report the composition of the supplements being investigated. This is because there are currently no guidelines covering how these types of tests should be performed.
The good news is that the Australian regulator is taking some action on claims made by distributors of these weight loss supplements, with the TGA recently banning the sale of FatBlaster Max.
Read more: Science or Snake Oil? Do Hydroxycut Durable Weight Loss Products Work?
While the reality is that it is most likely to be damaged by over-the-counter weight loss pills is the hip pocket, the action of the TGA also serves as an important reminder that the safety of weight loss supplements Over-the-counter sales can never be guaranteed.
The sale of various products worldwide has been banned after causing serious health problems. This includes the TGA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which banned dietary supplements containing ephedra in 2018, when supplements containing this stimulant herb were associated with cases of heart attack, seizure, stroke, and sudden death.
The real damage is also caused by the over-the-counter weight loss industry that feeds on people’s desire for a quick fix to get a quick weight loss.
The reality is that there are no weird pills.
Losing weight and achieving lasting results comes down to: following the evidence-based care of healthcare professionals and making significant changes to your diet, exercise, and lifestyle that you can maintain throughout your life.
A FatBlaster spokesman said the company is disappointed with the TGA’s decision and is evaluating options for the next steps.
He said the TGA requirements had changed over the years that FatBlaster Max Tablets have been on the market and that the company has taken great care to update all packaging, advertising and claims to ensure compliance with these requirements.
List cancellation does not affect the wider range of FatBlaster.