In 2018, an estimated 42.4% of American adults and 18.5% of American adolescents were classified as obese, which is defined as having a body mass index greater than 30 kg/m2 . 2 Best Fat Burning Vitamin Supplements Significant medical and psychosocial impacts are associated with obesity, including difficulty in making major dietary and lifestyle improvements . Thus, patients often turn to dietary and herbal supplements (DHSs) to help achieve their weight loss goals . According to the National Institutes of Health, DHSs are oral products that supplement the diet and contain ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and extracts . The use of DHSs for weight loss is widespread, with reports indicating that over 15% of American adults have, at some point, used DHSs for weight loss . In fact, the sales revenue of weight loss supplements is reported to be the fastest growing segment of the dietary supplement industry, with Americans spending over 2 billion dollars in 2015. These supplements are widely marketed and readily available without a prescription at pharmacies, retail outlets, health food stores, and online retailers . Many of these DHSs are marketed with claims of increasing satiety, metabolism, lipolysis, and thermogenesis while reducing appetite, body fat, and overall weight. Ingredients commonly found in DHSs for weight loss include green tea, chromium picolinate, ephedra, ginger root (Zingiber officinale), guarana (Paullinia cupana), caffeine, hydroxycitric acid, Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), cayenne (Capsicum annuum), and bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) . In a 2019 study of the nine most commonly advertised weight loss supplements on Google and Amazon, it was suggested that many weight loss supplements are associated with the potential for physical harm, with side-effects as severe as liver and kidney failure being observed . Thus, patients need scientifically accurate information about safety and efficacy to help guide their choices about weight loss supplements.
Information about DHSs for weight loss is widely available online. According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of the American population has internet access, with the offline population gradually declining from 48% of the total population in 2000 to just 10% in 2019 . Best Sellers in Healthy Fat Burning Supplements Due to this increase in accessibility, consumer health information is becoming increasingly sought after by patients browsing the the internet. A study found that 1 in 3 American adults use the internet to learn about a health concern . Moreover, the amount of people in the United Kingdom who access the internet for health-related information increased from 24% in 2008 to 60% in 2020 . A problem that has arisen from the minimal regulation and standardization of internet resources is the infrequent assessment of online health information quality . An abundance of incomplete and inaccurate information is prevalent online, with millions of accessible resources accumulating daily . Consumers can easily find information about DHSs on the internet, but the veracity of this information is often questionable ]. Best 2022’s Fat Burner Supplement For Beginners Given the high incidence of DHS use and ease of internet access, consulting web-based resources may lead patients to replace or decrease conventional medication use in favour of DHSs ].
To our knowledge, few studies over the past 5 years have evaluated the quality of online consumer health information about DHSs for weight loss that a “typical” patient might access. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to assess the quality of web-based information related to DHSs for weight loss based on the current online landscape, and thereby fill this void in the literature.