Weight loss shortcuts - what works and what's too risky?

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The weight problem in the U.S. is no secret - one in three Americans qualifies as obese.

New Year's resolutions may drive you to try pills, and Americans spend billions of dollars on weight-loss supplements every year.

Store shelves are packed with the supplements that promise to help you drop pounds, lose inches and burn fat fast. There are tablets and gummies and chewies and capsules -- containing ingredients like green coffee beans, green tea,
raspberry ketones, and garcinia cambogia.

A new Consumer Reports survey of about 3,000 Americans shows one in four has used weight loss supplements. But the same survey found more than 90 percent couldn't lose the weight they wanted and keep it off. About half reported at least one side effect, such as a faster heart rate, jitters and digestive problems.

Consumer Reports also says do not equate 'natural' with safe. For example Yohimbe, an African-tree bark extract marketed as a weight-loss supplement, may cause elevated blood pressure or panic attacks.

"There's no supplement out there with enough evidence to show that it's going to help you lose weight. And some unethical manufacturers even add banned prescription drugs to supplements," said Patricia Calvo with Consumer Reports.

In fact, hundreds of weight-loss supplements have been recalled by the FDA that contained drugs rarely listed on labels and linked to things like heart risks, severe hepatitis, liver failure, and even death.

"The short answer is don't take weight-loss supplements. They're mostly unregulated, they don't really work and they could very well hurt you," said Calvo.

Instead, stick to the tried and true. Your biggest allies in the battle of the bulge are still diet and exercise.

Consumer Reports says to lose weight successfully, practice portion control, eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains, and reduce your sugar intake. Another tip is to eat more meals at home. Doing so gives you more control over the calories you take in.

Last month, the FDA released two more notices about weight-loss supplements containing drugs. SLIM-K Capsules and B-Lipo Capsules were recalled due to undeclared drug ingredients.

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