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Weight loss supplements are considered by many as a quick-fix approach to the excessive body weight problem. The evidences of their efficiency and safety, however, are limited.

Growing obesity rates — and the accompanying diseases like diabetes, heart problems, and high blood pressure — have led to growing interest in weight loss. Treating obesity is proving to be a huge challenge, however, and most dieting approaches simply don't work in the long term. Why? People find it difficult to adhere to diet modifications and physical activity regiments. It's really that simple.

It is no wonder that many people look for and try shortcuts like weight loss medicines or supplements. These alleged "magic bullets" promise a natural way to lose weight faster.

People find these supplements easy to use. In addition, supplement manufacturers assure their consumers that they won't just successfully lose weight, but also experience additional health benefits. Currently, the use of such supplements is widespread, as they are not viewed as drugs and are, therefore, less regulated. But how safe and effective are these supplements?

Weight Loss Supplements: An Easy Approach To Weight Loss?

There are two wildly popular natural weight loss approaches: diet modification (primarily through limiting caloric intake) and physical activity. These two approaches, when combined, can lead to a lifestyle change where success in losing weight can be achieved and weight can be maintained for long period of time. However, these approaches are not that easy to adhere to.  

Another, rather easier approach being adopted these days is the use of weight-loss supplements. People are drawn towards this short-cut because these remedies are mostly regarded as "food supplements" and not drugs. Therefore, they are expected to be safer than drugs. This feeling is further enforced by the fact that the supplements don’t need to be prescribed by a physician. People who failed to reach their body weight target using conventional approaches (or even ended up gaining weight instead) are particularly tempted by the supplements.

Frustration with the previous failures may even cause them to intentionally overdose on supplements to gain quicker results.

Types Of Supplements And How They Work

Currently available weight loss supplements may rely on multiple courses of actions and molecular mechanisms for weight loss. They might increase the energy that the body spends (Ephedra, Caffeine), regulate carbohydrate metabolism (Ginseng, Chromium), increase satiation (Guar gum), cause an increase in the oxidation rate of fats or decreases the synthesis of fats in the body (Green tea, Licorice), or decrease the absorption of fat in the guts (Chitosan). Many supplements can also cause other effects (for example, mood elevation, as in the case of St. John’s wort). Quite a few supplements rely on the combination of several mechanisms of action.

The weight loss industry is rapidly growing, and the supplements aiding fat loss account for a very significant market share. It is estimated that people spend over $1.6 billion each year on the weight loss supplements in the US alone. With this remarkable and growing popularity, it is no wonder that the industry is tempted to introduce new high selling products as fast as possible.

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