Alternative treatments for weight loss: A critical review

David B. Allison, Kevin R. Fontaine, Stanley Heshka, Janet L. Mentore, Steven B. Heymsfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


"Nontraditional" or "alternative" treatments are extremely popular, especially with respect to obesity and body composition. Although such treatments are widely used, it is not clear that these are supported by the existing data in the peer-reviewed literature. Herein, we review the data on 18 methods/products advocated as potential anti-obesity/fat-reducing agents. We have found that none have been convincingly demonstrated to be safe and effective in two or more peer-reviewed publications of randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials conducted by at least two independent laboratories. Nevertheless, some have plausible mechanisms of action and encouraging preliminary data that are sufficiently provocative to merit further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Body composition
  • Herbal medicines
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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