Magic Crystals and Hoodia and Power Pills, Oh My!

Do these weight-loss aids really work?
A new drug called Contrave that is claimed to diminish food cravings is expected to come out in 2010. The obesity-targeted drug, whose FDA approval has been long awaited, is unique in that it combines two drugs already on the market. Orexigen Therapeutics Inc., the creators of Contrave, mixed an antidepressant drug with an addiction drug, which both have weight loss as a side effect. With all the weight-loss products on the market right now, which ones are bogus and which ones are legit? Health-Editor-At-Large Madelyn Fernstrom’s gave us a breakdown of seven popular products from pills to lip gloss to magic crystals.
1. Alli
Its claim: You will lose up to 50 percent more weight than the weight you’d lose living your regular healthy lifestyle.

Does it work?
Since Alli is the only FDA-approved weight-loss drug on the market right now, it has a trust factor that many over-the-counter drugs are lacking. Blocking 1/3 of the fat you eat at every meal, Alli is labeled a "fat blocker." But remember, it only blocks the dietary fat calories. So, if you already have a very low-fat diet, it’s not going to help you lose weight. It’s a good tool to help keep you on track, and a good motivator.

Where to find it: $45 at
2. Hoodia
It’s claim: Naturally suppresses your appetite, helping you eat less and lose weight.

Does it work?
In a perfect world, everyone eating a Hoodia plant in his or her backyard would lose weight. However, since the plant is grown in Africa and eaten by the natives as an appetite suppressor, it is unclear exactly how much of Hoodia is really in the pill form. While the plant is safe and effective in its natural setting, when it’s translated into a pill the effects are more ambiguous.

Where to find it: $130 at

3. Sensa
It’s claim: By intensifying the flavor of food, it tricks your brain into quicker eating satisfaction.

Does it work?
While it won't do your body harm, it’s unlikely you’ll lose weight by using these “magic crystals”. Eating less food and decreasing your calorie intake will help, but using these palatability intensifiers is unnecessary when salt and pepper may be just as satisfying.

Where to find it: $235 at

4. Aroma Patch
It’s claim: Acts as a reminder to help you stick to your diet and exercise program. Helps to relax, stimulate and influence overall sense of well-being.

Does it work?
Because our mood affects our food intake, the Aroma Patch uses the sense of smell to improve the way we feel. With vanilla scented aromatherapy smells, you can wear the patch on your hand, wrist or chest. It may make you feel  better after a hard days' work, but don't count on any significant weight loss from using the patch.

Where to find it: $19 at
5. Calorie-Burning Sodas: Celsius and Enviga
Their claim: Burn up to 100 calories or more in each can.

Does it work?
Another version of Red Bull, these drinks contain large amounts of caffeine to speed up your heart rate. When you heart beats faster, you burn more calories. While it won’t help you lose weight, it will help you stay awake during that 3 p.m. slump.

Where to find it: $43 at

6. Huge Lips, Skinny Hips

It’s claim: The lip gloss contains 10% Hoodia extract, which is an appetite suppressor.

Does it work?
Unless you’re using the lip gloss instead of eating, you’re fresh outta luck.

Where to find it: $20 at

These "healthy" foods aren't so healthy after all. Check out this gallery for 7 health food imposters you should avoid.

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