Diet patches, according to the heaps of spam flooding into my mailbox, are a dieter’s dream. Whether you’re a man or a women, throw on a diet patch—on your tummy, arm, or thigh—and watch the weight melt away, no matter what you eat.
Best of all, you don’t even need to worry about remembering to take your pills on a regular basis. That’s right… your one-a-day patch eliminates this worry. Easy, convenient, and effective.
It should. But it should not come as a surprise that it’s just not that easy.
So let’s talk about diet patches.
Let’s forget about whether the various diet patches actually deliver the ingredients they claim to, and whether those ingredients are effectively delivered through the skin transdermally (delivering ingredients through the skin effectively is more complex than it seems).
It’s also a valid question as to whether ANY of the various ingredients included in diet patch products can be delivered in a dosage strong enough to elicit any effect.
Let’s also forget that the US Federal Trade Commission (the regulatory body charged with protecting the consumer from “less-than-scrupulous” retailers) has recently charged several companies using spam to sell bogus diet patches; click here for complete details!).
Let’s instead ask the question you are most interested in…
Are the ingredients these patches provide actually all that effective at promoting weight loss?
Although there are many different types of patches on the market, most contain a blend of five main ingredients…
i. Guarana:often standardized for caffeine, a stimulant which has mild fat burning or thermogenic properties.
It’s also an antioxidant and a diuretic.
ii. Chromium: useful to help regulate insulin function and balance blood sugar levels.
In other words, it is useful for the treatment of many of the characteristics of the disorder that is often called “metabolic syndrome.”
As such, ingredients that have a positive effect on insulin regulation can lead to more stable blood sugar levels, which in turn, may reduce snacking on sweets and carbohydrate-rich snacks.
It’s benefit as a “fat burner” however, is in question. Studies are conflicting as to whether chromium can help with weight loss.
iii. Garcinia cambogia (standardized for HCA or hydroxycitric acid): touted to prevent the conversion of carbohydrates into fat by inhibiting the action of the enzyme citrate lyase.
Although there has been some promising results shown with HCA, a study published Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1596-600), showed that HCA supplementation failed to produce any measurable weight loss. The study focused on 135 overweight individuals for a 3 month period.
Other studies (Physiol Behav. 2000 Oct 1-15;71(1-2):87-94) failed to prove HCA had any effect on satiety. A newer more potent form of HCA, called “Super Citrimax” has been demonstrated to be the more effective version—more on this in the full review.
iv. Fucus vesiculosus (or bladderwrack or brown seaweed): touted by the diet patch makers to burn fat, bladderwrack contains a high concentration of iodine. Iodine is used by the thyroid gland to make the various thyroid hormones necessary for optimal performance.
Low or sluggish thyroid performance can lead to low energy levels or overweight. Of course, iodine supplementation is only helpful if you actually have low levels of thyroid hormone, and are not overweight for other more common reasons — like the over consumption of calories and a sedentary lifestyle (incidentally, overconsumption of iodine can actually pose a health risk).
Despite this, research showing bladderwrack to be an effective weight loss supplement is “dodgy” at best. More research needs to be done to verify its effectiveness. Nonetheless, bladderwrack does seem to be effective for reducing blood sugar levels — helpful for reducing cravings caused by insulin resistance and simple carbohydrate overconsumption.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything revolutionary in the average diet patch. Some ingredients, like chromium and guarana, although moderately helpful, have subtle effects and will not lead to much in the way of weight loss without accompanying changes to diet and lifestyle. Ingredients like HCA and bladderwrack don’t have much going for them in the way of proven results.
v. Hoodia: Today, it should come as no surprise that many of the most popular patches are Hoodia-based ones. There are several popular brands, but the claim is always the same…
Put on a Hoodia patch, and watch both your appetite and your waistline melt away.
Riiiight. Two things you should know about hoodia…
First, Hoodia is an endangered species that is very difficult for retailers to obtain. ConsumerLab.com, an online company that tests product label claims, has said this about hoodia…
“It has been speculated that there is more hoodia being sold today than could possibly be made from all the Hoodia gordonii plants in existence.”
Second, at this time there is very little real evidence hoodia is good for appetite suppression or anything else. If you’re interested, you can read the full review of hoodia here, and the rather underwhelming visitor feedback on hoodia here!
Are diet patches worth experimenting with?
I don’t think so, and neither does the US Federal Trade Commission.
They recently forced the makers of the As Seen on T.V. “Peel Away the Pounds” diet patch to pay $1,000,000 in consumer redress (for making false and unsubstantiated claims about the weight loss effectiveness their diet patch).
In other words, the makers of “Peel Away the Pounds” were unable to provide the FTC with any scientifically viable evidence that their diet product actually did anything at all.
And while it was the makers of “Peel Away the Pounds” who were under the gun this time, I’d be very surprised if other diet patches fared any better. So yes, you can expect the FTC to take further action against other companies selling diet patches in the future.
So yes… I’d say that qualifies diet patches as a scam.
Unless you feel like wasting your money and making someone else rich, give all diet patches—even the hoodia-based ones—a miss!
There’s really nothing here that justifies experimentation.