Thin evidence that diet pills work

CHOICE reveals holes in diet medication claims

A CHOICE review of leading diet and weight loss pills has found many are not rigorously tested. Most pills contain active ingredients that have no proven effectiveness, with the possibility that some could be harmful to health.

Of the 10 products investigated by CHOICE, two products, Xantrax High Potency and Rapid Burn, contain both bitter orange and panax ginseng which, when combined, may increase the risk of heart arrhythmias.

“Other weight loss pills we looked at, such as Hydroxycut Advanced and Xenadrine Ultra, contain extremely high amounts of caffeine – enough to potentially cause heart palpitations and high blood pressure,” says CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just.

In Australia, weight loss pills must be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), with the majority classed as complementary or alternative medicines.

Many of these pills fall into the TGA’s 'listed' rather than the more rigorously tested 'registered' category. This means that, while the listed diet pills are assessed for their safety, their effectiveness is not guaranteed. Only about 20% of ‘listed’ drugs are audited by the TGA to ensure they meet standards.

"Even though pill manufacturers are required to keep evidence that their product works, the literature that CHOICE looked at was quite underwhelming. If the majority of these pills and potions aren't tested by the TGA for efficacy, how can someone be confident that they work?” says Ms Just.

In the last six months, Leptin Weight Loss chocolate bar and Latin Seed product were removed from sale because they contained undeclared ingredients that pose possible health risks. Both products were TGA listed.

After looking at a range of common weight loss pill brands, the most positive conclusion CHOICE could come to was that more research needs to be done to determine their effectiveness.

"Also, watch out for those ‘happy customer’ testimonials that are part of the marketing spin. Many have fine print that explains the weight loss was achieved in conjunction with a calorie controlled diet and exercise.

"If you’re going to buy expensive weight loss pills, the only things left lighter in the long run may be your purse or wallet.  But if you are going to take them make sure you check with your doctor, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition,” says Ms Just.

To read the CHOICE report on weight loss pills, go to

Media Contact:

  • Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Spokesperson: 0430 172 669

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