10. Consult your doctor before placing your child on a diet, try to help your child gain weight, or make substantial changes in the type of foods your child eats. Never diagnose your child too heavy or too thin yourself; you need the support of a third party who can be perceived as objective by your child. This will prevent your child from developing feelings of resentment toward you.  If weight change is recommended consult with a Dietitian.

Looking for help losing weight? You are not alone. The majority of people struggle with weight, if even a few pounds. Want assistance that goes beyond the usual lifestyle changes, portion control advice and exercise routines? Weight-loss supplements touting names like “fat burner” and “thermo max” can be enticing if you’re a big dude looking to pump iron. But do they work? And even more important, in the wake of the Food and Drug Administration’s ban on ephedra, are they safe?

Weight Loss Supplements & Pills

This section describes 10 popular ingredients currently in supplements for weight loss.

Chitosan, made from the shells of lobsters, shrimp and other shellfish, is an indigestible fiber. It is supposed to help weight loss by binding with the fat you eat, blocking its absorption. However, studies do not support this claim. Side effects include constipation and gas. People with shellfish allergies should beware.

Chromium picolinate helps boost lean muscle mass and decrease body fat. An analysis of several studies concluded that supplementing with 200 to 400 micrograms per day of chromium picolinate could result in about a 2.5-pounds of weight loss per week in some people. Other studies have found a loss of body fat and an increase in muscle tissue, with no change in weight. Either way, that’s pretty good news.

Though the usual critics raise safety concerns, a large number of human studies suggest it is perfectly safe and healthy. It is very effective at regulating and balancing blood sugar and a highly recommended health supplement for those at risk for or suffering from diabetes.

Citrus Aurantium (Bitter Orange). This herbal extract is a natural source of synephrine (a compound similar to ephedrine) and the supplement industry’s answer to the ephedra ban. If you believe the mainstream medical community that ephedra was really dangerous and should have been banned by the government (because a few people had some side-effects) then stay away from it. If you believe that the whole thing was a sham and blatant political manipulation by the pharmaceutical companies to get rid of a supplement that worked too well, you’ll like bitter orange. We like it. Taken in reasonable doses, it helps you lose weight and feel more energetic. Just be sure not to take too much.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). This is an amazing substance. It has been shown to fight cancer, heart disease and inflammation. It also decreases insulin sensitivity – good for diabetics. Both animal and human research support a role for CLA in reducing body fat and increasing lean body mass. CLA is currently being studied in combination with chromium picolinate. CLA is found naturally in dairy foods and beef and is generally considered safe. [Editor’s note: another significant study on the efficacy of CLA in reducing weight was released by Ohio State University in 9/09.]

Garcinia Cambogia. The extract from Garcinia cambogia fruit rind contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which decreases hunger, weight and storage of excess calories as fat. HCA is being viewed with great enthusiasm in the weight loss community.  One study shows that 22 people lost approximately 11lbs each by taking HCA with chromium picolinate over a period of eight weeks.  The volunteers in this survey didn’t diet at all.  There was no counting calories or anything usually associated with calorie restriction, they simply ate the same foods as their families, but they naturally ate less.  Volunteers reported a decrease in sugar cravings and an increase in energy. Taken in moderation it is safe.

Guarana. Caffeine is the effective ingredient in guarana plant seeds. Guarana seeds are rich in caffeine and contain up to 4-8% caffeine, more than coffee beans, which contain approximately 1–2.5% caffeine, so be careful because it’s potent. Guarana has an appetite suppressant effect over the short term. It was often used in combination with ephedra until ephedra was banned. The potential side effects are those of caffeine overdose—insomnia, restlessness, anxiety or panic. Just don’t take too much and you’ll be fine, like most anything. Guarana releases the caffeine more slowly so is actually better than the coffee for health.