Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do Slimming Patches Work?

Slimming patches stick on the skin like a Band-Aid. Marketers say the patches reduce cravings and speed metabolism, helping you to lose weight. Some doctors say there's no proof the patches work, and in recent years the Federal Trade Commission has charged certain companies with false advertising.

Slimming patches are being widely advertised on the Web and in some stores. The ingredients are typically a mixture of plants and natural ingredients, such as hoodia gordonii, a seaweed called fucus vesiculosus and guarana, a stimulant. The Slim Weight Patch, sold by Roduve Healthcare Solutions BV of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, contains a blend of ground seaweed, guarana and nine other ingredients the company's website says will "control your hunger cravings and speed up your metabolism."

Some obesity experts are skeptical of the patches. "There is no evidence that it works. I think you are wasting your money," says Xavier Pi-Sunyer, director of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York.

Typically the patches are applied once a day, anywhere on the body that is clean, dry and hairless. Companies who sell the patches say the active ingredients are absorbed through the skin. Costs vary, but typically range from $15 to $40 for a month's supply.

The patches being marketed haven't generally been tested in rigorous clinical trials. "There is weak evidence that it affects the thyroid [which helps regulate metabolism] but evidence is lacking for its use in weight loss," says Catherine Ulbricht, co-founder of Natural Standard and senior attending pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Another issue is that even if the ingredients themselves do affect appetite and weight, there is no proof they are getting into the body via the patches, without well-designed clinical trials. "Just because a drug is effective when swallowed doesn't mean the drug is going to be effective when put on the skin," says Mark R. Prausnitz, director of the Center for Drug Design, Development and Delivery at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. To pass effectively through the skin, he adds, a substance must have a low molecular weight (which means it is very small) and must be oily. And once an ingredient is in the body, it may have a different effect when eaten compared with skin absorption, scientists say.

Source: Wall Street Journal 11/16

Looks like you might be able to save your money by passing this patch up and instead spend it on a gym membership.

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