Researchers at Sydney University writing in Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism A Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics have found that “Despite some of the herbal medicines showing statistically greater weight-loss than placebo, weight loss was less than 2.5kg and therefore not of clinical significance.”
A total of 54 randomised controlled trials comparing the effect of herbal medicines to placebo for weight loss in over 4000 participants.
The majority - 67 per cent - of Australians are overweight or obese.
The researchers note that there is currently not enough evidence for herbal medicines for clinically significant weight-loss. However, many of the included studies were small, of poor design and methodological quality, with inadequate reporting of the herbal medicine interventions.” said the authors, led by Dr Nick Fuller (PhD) of the university’s Boden Collaboration for Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders.
Overweight and obesity in Australia
In 2017-18, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey showed that two thirds (67.0%) of adults were overweight or obese. Plus, 55 per cent of Australians don’t meet the recommended guidelines for exercise. A substantial 8.4 per cent of the burden of disease is due to being overweight or obese in this country.
Multifactorial and complex
Weight gain – overweight and obesity – is multifactorial and complex. The first step to getting to a healthy weight range is to enjoy a healthy diet and regular exercise. It also requires a real and ongoing commitment by the individual trying to make healthier lifestyle habits.
There are many reasons why attempts at weight-loss fail, including setting unrealistic goals, emotional eating, negative self-image, self-doubt and underlying physiological and chronic health conditions, as well as medication for chronic conditions. The search for a quick or easy fix is also another reason that so-called ‘diets’ fail.
Complementary medicines – a useful adjunct
Herbal and dietary supplements can be a useful adjunct to healthier living. These have been used for centuries to aid weight-loss, and significant historical data backs herbal and nutritional supplements.
To reiterate, there is no question that weight-loss requires commitment. Weight-loss supplements can be useful when taken by people who also adopt sensible lifestyle changes. Seeking and selecting approaches to weight-loss including treatments can be a major sign of commitment to losing weight for an individual. As well as losing weight, maintaining the weight-loss also requires ongoing behavioural, and lifestyle changes. A health professional's advice can provide important and expert guidance and support to achieve and maintain weight-loss goals.