U.S. doubts supplement weight loss claims for kids

June 23, 2004 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

U.S. doubts supplement weight loss claims for kids

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said last week it had charged the sellers of two dietary supplements with making unsupported claims that their products could help children lose weight.

Advertisements on Web sites and in Cosmopolitan magazine said one of the supplements, called Pedia Loss, was an appetite suppressant that increased fat burning and slowed absorption of carbohydrates. Promotions for another supplement, Pedia Lean, said clinical testing showed the product could spur substantial weight loss in children.

None of those claims was backed by sufficient scientific evidence, the FTC said in complaints filed against the nine companies and five individuals it said were involved in misleading advertisements for the supplements. The complaints order the defendants to stop making unsupported weight-loss claims. The companies can appeal the charges to an administrative law judge.

The firms defended their products to skeptical lawmakers at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing last week examining supplements marketed to help overweight children.

The weight-loss claims were based in part on a 1992 study published in an Italian medical journal showing the fiber glucomannan, one of Pedia Lean's ingredients, helped children lose weight.

But one specialist in pediatric obesity medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, told lawmakers she had "serious doubts" about the study's conclusions. The design had several flaws, and the authors did not account for the 38% of patients who dropped out of the trial, which could bias the results.

She also said Pedia Lean could be dangerous for children because glucomannan can swell in the body and obstruct the esophagus or intestines.

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