Makers of natural weight-loss products focus on fair and honest assertions, as well as overall health benefits to propel the category.
Happy New Year Resolution! The new diet season, which starts January 1 and typically ends around Memorial Day, is off to its annual start. America’s estimated 108 million dieters (about 82 percent of who try to lose weight by themselves) are hunkering down.
According to manufacturers of natural weight loss products, the current state of the weight-management market continues to increase every year as more people find themselves not only overweight, but also dealing with other health concerns such as diabetes and cardiovascular issues. Americans aged 20 years and older who are overweight, including obese, represented 68.8 percent of the population between 2009-10, said a Food Research and Action Center report.
“Being overweight is not something that people routinely discuss with their doctors … until it’s too late and they have other health issues stemming from their weight. But the increasing awareness that is making its way into the lives of Americans has people looking closer at their scales,” said Angela Hein, executive vice-president of Texasbased Genesis Today. “With so much emphasis put on people’s appearances, they’re actively trying to find a quick fix (i.e., the easiest thing for people to do). But, there is no such thing as a magic pill that will make you lose weight and keep it off. Supplements are to be taken in conjunction with exercise, a healthy diet and lifestyle.”
A recent Marketdata Enterprises projection noted that the total weight loss market for 2013 increased by 2.6 percent over 2012, Hein noted, adding that for Retail Diet Pills & Meal Replacements, the market is projected to be up 2 percent over last year and up to 6 percent in annual gains through the year 2016.
Jerry Chou, CEO of California-based Sainthood Herbs, said the company has seen steady growth in the last few years, and offered that consumers are concerned with other health issues that go hand-in-hand with overweight and obesity. “Many people are turning to supplementation alongside lifestyle changes to help manage those extra pounds. People are becoming more concerned with their health these days and losing excess weight is the first step in the right direction to overall health and wellness.”
Ingredients for Weight Loss At Genesis Today, Hein said the most effective weight-loss ingredients the company utilizes include:
• Green Coffee Bean Extract— Unroasted coffee beans contain chlorogenic acids (CGAs) that are decreased when the coffee bean is roasted, and are thought to be the key compound behind the green coffee bean’s weight management support. Genesis Today’s Green Coffee Bean product contains 45 percent CGAs.
• Garcinia Cambogia—This super fruit looks similar to a pumpkin, but buried inside the rind is believed to be the key for supporting weight management: hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA extract from garcinia cambogia supplements aids in weight loss by doing two things: help block fat and help suppress appetite. The company’s Garcinia Cambogia product contains 60 percent HCA.
• Caralluma Fimbriata—Derived from the Indian cactus of the same name, Caralluma fimbriata is believed to support healthy appetite suppression. It has been used by tribal Indians to suppress hunger and enhance endurance.
Genesis Today also offers its GenEssentials Fiber, a plant-based supplement that features five proprietary functional digestive blends. It supports healthy digestion and elimination, while providing the fiber people’s bodies need to provide a feeling of fullness and support health and well-being.
“Consumers of all demographics, backgrounds and incomes are purchasing our products,” Hein said. “While the majority of our customers are women, men are also looking into healthy weight management products to help them supplement a healthier lifestyle. We recommend our products for people ages 18 and older, and as with any supplement, we recommend that people always check with their health care provider before taking any supplement.”The most successful products are those that support overall health, added Chou. “’Trend’ products and fasting diets are just an unhealthy disaster waiting to happen,” he said. “A successful product in this industry helps the consumer see that managing their weight is a lifestyle choice and it will not happen overnight. Typically, they are accompanied by encouragement of proper diet and exercise. The educated consumer, who researches ingredients and reads labels, is typically purchasing such products.”
Sainthood Herbs’ Weight Management formula contains ID-alG, which is a clinically tested ingredient composed of kelp and grape seed extract. The product also has a proprietary blend of turmeric, Chinese hawthorn and bitter orange, and is Non- GMO Project Verified and vegetarian with no magnesium stearate.
Weight management supplements have changed a lot through the years. As products and people’s knowledge evolve, so do the ingredients in the better supplements on the market.
“A lot of natural products have evolved over the years, thus taking the industry by storm,” Chou noted, pointing to raspberry ketones and green coffee beans. “Even though these could be considered ‘trends,’ they are still natural ingredients for weight management. Many consumers want more natural products and less lab-created concoctions.”
“People are demanding that their supplements, whether they be for weight management or to support a healthy lifestyle, be plant-based products from brands they trust, that have testing behind them,” Hain added. “Being plant-based gives people the confidence to supplement their daily routines with a product they feel is safe.”
While the category expects strong growth, there are certainly obstacles to overcome—the economy, being one. Another hurdle is people realizing that one supplement will not work for everyone, Hein noted. “What works for one person may not work for the next person. Everyone’s body reacts differently to supplements, or they may have health issues that aren’t conducive to particular supplements. We Ask that consumers do their research and try a few supplements until they find one that works for them and consult with their health care provider.”
Also are the “fly-by-night” companies that pop up when an ingredient becomes popular, then disappears once the excitement is over, Hein added. “People buy products from these companies, and if they don’t work, they become discouraged,” she said. “People need to do go with wellestablished companies that are known to sell products that are plant-derived and in vegetarian capsules, not tablets.”
And, of course, one can’t ignore the recent plethora of negative news associated weight-loss products, Chou pointed out. “With far too many companies operating in an unethical manner, this could potentially put a negative image on weight-management products. As a result, many retailers are not going to consider taking in any weight-related dietary supplements—directly impacting the industry.”
To increase weight-loss product sales in retail stores, Hein suggested offshelf feature placement and offering education about the products.
To provide information to retail staffs, Genesis Today stays in constant contact with its retailer partners, she added. “We send them information on new products, information on new studies that come out, and updated information and signage for their stores. We support in-store education and staff trainings and offer consumer lectures to educate the public about the benefits of super food and weight management supplements.”
The more information and knowledge the consumer has about your product, the better they will understand what is going on in their body, Chou pointed out. “A major factor is staying honest with your customers. If your product will help them drop a few pounds, say that! Don’t blow smoke. This category, unfortunately, can be full of smoke and mirrors. Be honest, keep your products clean and make sure they work.”
Obese & Healthy?
There is no such thing as overweight and healthy, researchers from the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto concluded based on an analysis of eight prior studies designed to study the relationship between weight and a person’s health.
In all, the researchers compared information on more than 61,000 participants in order to determine whether “benign obesity” or “metabolically healthy obesity” exists. These terms have been used in the past to refer to individuals considered metabolically healthy despite high levels of body fat.
Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the analysis suggests that metabolically healthy obese individuals face a higher risk of death and cardiovascular events over the long term when compared to metabolically healthy normal-weight individuals.
Based on these results, the study’s authors argue that there is no such thing as a being overweight and healthy.
“Being obese is associated with an increased risk for heart disease, even if an individual is otherwise ‘metabolically healthy’ and does not have the Metabolic syndrome,” the researchers wrote. “There does not seem to be a ‘healthy pattern’ of increased weight.”
The study has its limitations, as James Hill and Dr. Holly Wyatt of the University of Colorado point out in an accompanying editorial, “The Myth of Healthy Obesity”, which appeared on Annals of Internal Medicine’s website on December 3, 2013. These include less-than-adequate data on the participants’ health behaviors, as well as a lack of information about weight gain. The study also only focuses on total mortality and cardiovascular events, and furthermore, fails to include older subjects.
Still, the two note, “The results are consistent with the notion that obesity is a disease.”
Going forward, Hill and Wyatt hope the study will prompt further research into the link between weight, metabolic health and overall health outcomes.
“This evidence fuels the debate about the existence of a subset of obese persons who are unlikely to have long-term negative health effects and should not be targeted for treatment,” they argued.
Study: SBA24 Sea Buckthorn Benefits in Overweight Women
In a recent study of 80 overweight women published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Finnish researchers confirmed that a unique combination of sea buckthorn seed and berry oil called SBA24 was effective for both heart and metabolic support. The researchers also compared results to eating dried sea buckthorn berries, eating bilberries, and the use of a sea buckthorn alcohol extract with maltodextrin.
While the study examined a wide variety of metabolic parameters, including various fractions of cholesterol, the authors noted that both the sea buckthorn and the bilberry in previous studies had also slightly reduced waist circumference and overall weight in volunteers.
Taking 4 g/day of SBA24 sea buckthorn oil supported healthy cholesterol levels already within normal range, and both heart and metabolic health support. The SBA24 sea buckthorn seed and berry extract proved superior to both the alcohol extract with maltodextrin and the bilberries for these effects.
“This unique sea buckthorn extract, SBA24, has already been shown in previous studies to support healthy moisture levels in the skin and eye, as well as provide very good gastrointestinal support. It also improves postmenopausal vaginal dryness,” said lead author, Petra Larmo, PhD “However, this is the first study to investigate its impact on heart and metabolic health in overweight women. SBA24 is not a single sea buckthorn extract, but an exact and specific ratio of sea buckthorn berry oil to sea buckthorn seed oil. The combination of many healthy plant nutrients from these two sources makes a big difference.”
SBA24 is available in Wisconsinbased EuroPharma’s Terry Naturally brand as the products Omega 7 (formerly Hydra 7) and Omega 7 Eye Relief.
Spray Away Hunger
Florida-based Midas Direct LLC recently introduced Spray Thin, a unique way to aid in weight loss. When sprayed on foods, this appetite suppressant is said to stimulate the brain during eating to help users stop eating sooner. Clinical studies have shown significant weight-loss results when used in a six-month program.
“Spray Thin works by stimulating the ventral medial hypothalamus area of the brain to send hunger cessation signals, indicating enough food has been consumed,” said Chuck Stebbins, a nutritional biochemist who is widely credited as being the “father” of sports and performance nutrition, and developer of Spray Thin. “This normally occurs when roughly half a normal amount of food has been consumed and the feelings of satiety last many hours.”
Stebbins added that Spray Thin does not change the taste of any foods.
In 1998, Stebbins began a series of research studies directed at the role that olfaction plays in the behavior and biochemical outputs of animals and humans. This research has been continuous, spanning 15 years. Ten years ago, Stebbins developed the product idea for Sprinkle Thin, an inert crystal sensory product. In 2012, Stebbins/Scientific Scents, working in conjunction with Dr.
Howard Moskowitz, a Harvard psychophysicist and mathematician, and Danny Moskowitz, a mass-market specialists, created the manufacturing prototype for an olfaction product with a unique mist delivery system named Spray Thin. The product was marketed beginning the summer of 2013.
Spray Thin should resonate with consumers since it is neither a drug nor an ingestible nutrient and, as a result, does not change the chemistry of the body in any way, Stebbins said. Therefore it is totally non-invasive and completely safe for anyone to use including children.
“The key to weight-loss product development is a product that could assist a person in losing weight without the need for changing the foods they eat or engaging in increased activity. And to do so in a totally healthy manner,” Stebbins added.
More plans for olfaction products are coming, according to Stebbin. “We are working on scents that effectively trigger relaxation, memory and focus, smoking cessation, among others.”