• Transdermal Patches for Weight Loss: Safe or Sorry?

    weight tape measurement obesity waist thumb Any product that promises to help you lose unwanted pounds while also dropping your blood pressure, clearing your skin, stabilizing your blood sugar, and elevating your mood sounds like a great thing. Companies marketing weight-loss patches have their own test results supporting these claims, as well as loads of personal testimonies attributing major health benefits to patch use. And considering that many American adults are overweight or obese, effective weight loss strategies are certainly needed. But do weight-loss patches really work and are they safe?
    A wide variety of skin, or transdermal, weight- and fat-loss patch products are available for purchase on the Internet. Some focus on dropping pounds overall by “resetting your body chemistry;” others are designed to shed fat by “revving up your fat-burning furnace.” In their marketing, the patches are said to influence the body’s metabolism by altering the hormones involved in weight management. All patches contain a collection of ingredients, mainly herbal, that enter the body through the skin.
    Patches are usually worn on a hairless, lean part of the body like the shoulder, wrist, or ankle. A new patch is applied daily. Skin patches are designed to provide even dosing over a 24-hour period.

    Unproven Safety Record

    The skin patches claim to act in two basic ways: by boosting metabolism and reducing appetite. Some ingredients claim to rev up the metabolism; others put a curb on appetite and cravings. Many patches promise other benefits, including increased lean body mass, boosted energy, lower blood pressure, and improved alertness. But, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which investigates fraudulent and deceptive business practices, reports that these weight-loss claims are "bogus."
    As with any herbal remedy, many weight-loss patch ingredients are classified as “natural plant derivatives.” This label does not automatically mean that they are safe. Safety issues are not readily known for many patch ingredients, but consumers using a weight-loss skin patch should be aware that they are allowing herbal drugs to enter their bodies. Therefore, it is wise to consult a doctor before using these patches, especially if you are taking any prescribed medicines or have any chronic conditions.

    Best Bet: Diet and Exercise

    There is no shortage of anecdotal success stories from weight-loss patch believers who profess to have lost lots of weight and achieved considerably improved health. But, is it due to the patch? Or, could it be the increased attention to a healthy lifestyle?
    One manufacturer openly explained that patch use “puts a whole new idea in your head how to get healthier.” So perhaps weight-loss patch believers are experiencing positive results because of healthy changes to their lifestyles, along with—or wholly aside from—patch use.
    For those who do claim to lose weight or fat while wearing a patch, the loss happens gradually in most cases. However, most patch marketers advertise that long-term weight- and fat-loss maintenance is best achieved with a proper diet and exercise plan. No surprise there. There still appears to be no getting around the fact that changes in lifestyle, like improved diet and more exercise, are needed to keep the pounds off—and keep healthy—for good.


    Federal Trade Commission http://www.ftc.gov

    National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine http://nccam.nih.gov/


    Dieticians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca/

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html/


    Drugs and Supplements. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DrugHerbIndex. Accessed November 15, 2010.

    FTC: skin patches do not cause weight loss. Federal Trade Commission website. Available at: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/12/transdermal.shtm. Published December 15, 2004. Accessed November 7, 2011.

    Kurtzweil P. How to spot health fraud. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/BioterrorismandDrugPreparedness/ucm137284.htm. Published February 25, 2010. Accessed November 7, 2011.

    Pittler MH, Ernst E. Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a systematic review.Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Apr;79(4):529-36.

    Weighing the evidence in diet ads. Federal Trade Commission website. Available at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/health/evidence.htm. Accessed October 10, 2005.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.