Health Canada has a warning for those who, with the end of the holiday season and the start of the new year, are looking to lose weight: watch out for unauthorized weight loss products.
“This time of the year we know that weight loss products sell more than at any other time of the year,” says Sean Upton, a spokesperson with Health Canada.
While authorized health products for weight loss may be beneficial when used properly as part of a weight management program, using unauthorized products could cause serious harm, according to Health Canada.
Some of these unauthorized products are marketed as natural health products, but have been found to contain hidden and potentially harmful ingredients such as sibutramine.
Sibutramine, previously used to treat obesity, is banned in Canada because of side effects such as heart attack and stroke, increased blood pressure and heart rate, dry mouth, difficulty sleeping, and constipation.
Health Canada has identified a number of products that contain undeclared prescription drugs or other potentially risky substances, including Brazil Perfect Reducing Fat Coffee, Goya Bittermelon, Super, and Fat Burning Bomb. The full list is available on the agency’s website.
Upton says Health Canada inspectors continue to come across unauthorized products in stores.
“It is a recurring problem that products are found year after year in shops,” he says.
Health Canada recommends that people talk to their health care practitioner about the best way to achieve a healthy body weight, including discussing the potential benefits and risks of any weight loss products they might be considering using.
This is especially important for people under 18, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those with medical conditions or serious illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
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