The Australian regulator has banned FatBlaster Max, an over-the-counter pill that claimed (without proof) to help you lose weight.

FatBlaster Max can no longer be bought, after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) discovered that the company behind the pills had registered the drug without mentioning the weight loss properties and had produced no evidence at the time. support for his advertised claim that it resulted in weight loss.

The ban has brought over-the-counter diet pills back into the spotlight, highlighting a hugely popular unregulated area. Studies show that one in seven people have tried an over-the-counter diet pill, no doubt lured by its promises to help people lose weight easily and quickly.

But do over-the-counter diet pills really work? Here’s everything you need to know about the weight loss supplements that currently make up a huge part of Australia’s billion-dollar weight loss industry.

What exactly are over-the-counter diet pills?

Broadly speaking, over-the-counter pills are anything you buy from a pharmacist without a prescription, such as cold and flu remedies and paracetamol. Some over-the-counter medications are also available at retailers such as supermarkets, gas stations, and health food stores.

Over-the-counter diet pills are basically dietary and herbal supplements marketed and sold with claims to help with weight loss.

The important distinction between over-the-counter diet pills and doctor-prescribed diet pills is that prescription diet pills – like all pharmaceutical drugs – must go through clinical trials and provide the Australian Medicines Regulator with evidence of their effectiveness. and their safety.

Read more: ‘Fat blaster’ drug can give you weight loss to die for

Worryingly, distributors of over-the-counter diet pills and supplements are not required to produce any proof of the efficacy and safety of their products before they hit the Australian market. The TGA only requires them to hold, but not necessarily make freely available, the evidence supporting their claims.

How do over-the-counter diet pills help you lose weight?

Over-the-counter diet pills usually claim to contain several herbal or natural ingredients that help you lose weight in one of four ways:

  1. by suppressing your appetite or filling you up using ingredients like a tropical fruit called garcinia cambogia or glucomannan, a dietary fiber made from the root of the konjac plant

  2. by speeding up your metabolism and your body’s ability to burn fat using compounds like grass Ephedra sinica or a fatty acid (conjugated linoleic acid) found in meat and dairy products

  3. by blocking your body’s ability to digest things like carbohydrates and fats by using Phaseolus vulgaris (also known as common bean) or a variety of green tea leaf called Camellia sinensis

  4. by absorbing fat from the foods you eat, relying on ingredients like chitosan, a product created from the shells of crustaceans and insects.

Do these diet pills work?

In a word: no.

Most advertisements for over-the-counter diet pills and dietary supplements proudly claim that a product’s results are backed by “clinical trials” and “scientific evidence”, but the reality is that a multitude of studies independent evidence does not support these claims.

Independent studies do not support weight loss claims from over-the-counter pills.

Two recent studies from the University of Sydney examined 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 be sold?

Given that there are few to no controls and even less accountability compared to prescription weight-loss drugs, the researchers’ findings should come as no surprise.

Recent studies suggest that weight loss supplement companies have conducted very few high quality studies. Many trials are too small, poorly designed, and do not accurately report the composition of the supplements studied. Indeed, there are currently no guidelines on how these types of trials should be conducted.

The good news is that the Australian regulator is taking action on allegations 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 Lasting Weight Loss Products Work?

While the reality is the thing most likely to be harmed by over-the-counter diet pills is your hip pouch, the action of TGA also serves as an important reminder that the safety of over-the-counter diet supplements does not can never be guaranteed.

Several products have been banned from sale worldwide after causing serious health problems. This includes the TGA and the US Food and Drug Administration banning dietary supplements containing ephedra in 2018, when supplements containing this stimulating herb were linked to cases of heart attack, epilepsy, stroke and of sudden death.

The real harm is also caused by the over-the-counter weight loss industry that feeds on people’s desire for a quick fix to lose weight fast.

The reality is that there is no miracle pill.

Losing weight and getting lasting results comes down to: Following evidence-based care from medical professionals and making meaningful changes to your diet, exercise, and lifestyle that you can sustain. your whole life.

A FatBlaster spokesperson said the company is disappointed with the TGA’s decision and is evaluating options for next steps.

He said the TGA requirements had changed over the years FatBlaster Max tablets were on the market and the company had taken great care to update all packaging, advertising and claims to ensure compliance with those requirements. .

Unlisting has no impact on the wider FatBlaster lineup.