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Popular Weight Loss Supplements – Are They Safe?

Recently WA man Matthew Whitby used two of what he thought were safe and regulated weight loss supplements but ended up with liver failure and an emergency transplant. We have many consumer protection laws and agencies in Australia so on face value it seems reasonable to expect that if a product is freely available for sale it is safe. So it’s not surprising that we hear many people ask ‘how could this happen?’.

In Australia, weight loss supplements in the form of pills, potions and powders fall under the control of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Garcinia Cambogia (green tea extract), the weight loss supplements that Matthew Whitby’s Doctor linked to his liver failure, is listed by the TGA as ‘low risk’, and therefore ‘may be safely sold through supermarkets, while higher-risk products may only be supplied with a prescription.’ (1)

So it’s safe, but linked to liver failure in an otherwise healthy man. Confused yet?

It’s no surprise that the average consumer finds it difficult to navigate their way around the supermarket shelves, half of the labels read like a chemistry text book. If you search for product reviews online, you’ll come across many miracle potion/pill claims often on the same page as links to class actions and personal horror stories.

We’ll be honest – in this particular case, we don’t know what the answer is. Perhaps long term studies or legal challenges will impact on the regulation of this product. Perhaps the issue is confusion around dosage or labelling. Perhaps not.

However, we can give you a simple guide on how best to avoid buying weight loss products that put your health at risk and here it is…..

Don’t Do Short Cuts To quote Mr Whitby himself

“I wouldn’t recommend shakes in general, just diet and exercise.”

“Hopefully [my case] will convince people to do it the natural way. I learnt that the hard way.” (2)

Weight loss supplements – do you REALLY need them? Weight loss supplement marketing is often targeted to those who are vulnerable and desperate for change. You’ll notice that marketers almost always recommend that you combine their product with a healthy diet and exercise. Why? Because that is what really works.

In our view, for the average gym goer who isn’t an athlete weight loss supplements are simply not necessary. However, if you are going to take them, we recommend you do so under the guidance of a sports dietitian or GP.

Our clients don’t use them because they get great results via good nutrition and efficient exercise. Start with the end in mind. If your goal is to lose weight AND keep it off, then learning sustainable healthy habits is the key. Find ways to exercise and eat well regularly, get the right support and HUZZAH – pill free zone, no fads or gimmicks necessary and your money stays in your pocket.

You even get to keep your liver.