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The FDA Seeks Increased Oversight of Weight Loss Supplements

By Rob Poulos...

According to recent government investigations, there are weight loss and immune system supplements that are labeled illegally and don’t have scientific data to support their claims.

In a report released by the Department of Human and Health Services, it is estimated that 20 percent of over 120 supplements claiming to assist in weight loss or improve the immune system have a labeling claiming to be cures for weight loss or certain diseases. These claims are illegal.

In addition, the other supplements all lack scientific evidence to support their suggested claims. Among the many claims that are made by the supplements is that they can cure diabetes, cancer or can aid in treating HIV and AIDS. These false claims are illegal under federal law.

It is also important to understand that not only can people waste money on falsely labeled supplements; there is a possibility that these supplements that could endanger a person’s health as well.

For matters of weight loss, many consumers use the claims made by a supplement company to determine what product they will end up buying. Misleading or false claims can trick people into replacing prescription drugs were unproven supplements, and this could have dangerous health-related repercussions.

One such area of concern is dietary supplements. These range from vitamin C to Echinacea. This area is the focus of the Inspector General’s investigation mainly because this is the most popular form of supplementation.

The supplements are under no obligation to provide scientific data that they are safe or that they work. However, the FDA can get involved if there are safety issues or if somebody has negative reactions to the supplements.

In more than one case, the Office of Inspector General government regulations were not adhered to when companies could not back up their claims with scientific evidence.

Some of the shoddy scientific evidence included a handwritten college paper that was 30 years old as well as advertisements, Wikipedia links and newspaper releases.

While the report doesn’t mention any particular manufacturers or products, it raises the question as to if the FDA is doing enough to prevent companies from misleading consumers.

The FDA has responded by saying it would appeal to Congress to allow them more oversight into the supplement industry. This would require companies to provide scientific evidence as well as realistic health benefits. In addition, the FDA would step up its efforts to eliminate unsubstantiated claims that are made by supplement manufacturers as to a supplement’s ability to cure or treat diseases.

It has also been discovered that 7 percent of immune system and weight loss supplements didn’t have the proper disclaimer stating that the FDA has not reviewed the product in question.

As for the supplement industry’s response, they pass it off as a few bad apples in the bunch and nothing more.

While the supplement industry feels that they are receiving bad press for a few unruly manufacturers, they understand the supplement industry will be under the microscope from now on.

An attorney representing over 350 supplement and food companies stated that the industry is actually sufficiently regulated and that it was understandable that manufacturers should backup their claims with scientific evidence to the FDA.

While there are a few bad apples, the majority of supplements are safe for consumers to use. However, when health issues arise, it’s the FDA’s job to ensure public health.

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