Monmouthshire’s environmental health team is warning residents that claims made by many quick-fix diet solutions are often too good to be true.  An estimated one in three people in the UK has made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and environmental health officers are keen to remind people that supplements to support diets should not be seen as a substitute for varied nutrition and a healthy life style.  It is also important, they say, to discuss changes in diet and lifestyle with a qualified healthcare professional.

Food supplements come in a variety of forms – traditional tablets, capsules, and powders, as well as drinks.  There are many other types of foods marketed at those seeking to lose weight and sports nutrition is gaining in popularity.  These products are strictly regulated in law to ensure safety and labelled correctly for consumers to make informed decisions.

Only permitted nutrition and approved health claims published in an EU register can legally be used on food labelling.  It is important to be aware that such claims as ‘reduces fatigue’, ‘train harder’, and ‘increase in energy and recovery’ may not be approved for use.  Claims referring to the amount or rate of weight loss are also illegal.

Environmental health officers are urging those considering the purchase of food supplements sold on the high street, the internet and via social media to source them only from reputable suppliers.

Residents are advised to check the ingredients list of supplements and to strictly avoid any tablets, capsules or liquids containing the ingredient DNP (Dinitrophenol).  An industrial chemical unfit for human consumption, it is extremely dangerous and in some circumstances consumption can lead to a coma or death.  Products containing DNP tend to be marketed at those seeking to lose weight as well as the body-building community as ‘fat burners’.

Consumers should also be aware of the hazards associated with DMAA (Dimethlyamylamine), an ingredient often described as a natural stimulant.  Its many claimed functional uses include aids to body-building and weight loss.  DMAA can elevate blood pressure and lead to cardiovascular problems, linked to stroke or death.  Products containing DMAA are typically medicinal products and are regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Council Leader Peter Fox said: “Residents should take great care to ensure that dietary products and food supplements are safe to consume.  If they are in any doubt they should seek advice.”

For further information and guidance, or to report an issue contact Monmouthshire’s Environmental Health team on environmentalhealth@monmouthshire.gov.uk or 01873 735420.