After reports of one death and several of serious liver damage, the popular supplement Hydroxycut has been recalled by the Food and Drug Administration. Popular with dieters and body builders, the supplement is sold in grocery stores and pharmacies. A reported nine million packages were sold last year, according to the FDA. Consumers should stop taking the supplements.
Dr. Linda Katz of the FDA's food and nutrition division said the agency has received 23 reports of liver problems, including the death of a 19-year-old boy living in the Southwest. The teenager died in 2007, and the death was reported to the FDA this March, according to the Associated Press.
Hydroxycut products are dietary supplements that are marketed for weight-loss, as fat burners, as energy-enhancers, as low carb diet aids, and for water loss under the Iovate and MuscleTech brand names. The list of products being recalled by Iovate currently includes:
- Hydroxycut Regular Rapid Release Caplets
- Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free Rapid Release Caplets
- Hydroxycut Hardcore Liquid Caplets
- Hydroxycut Max Liquid Caplets
- Hydroxycut Regular Drink Packets
- Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free Drink Packets
- Hydroxycut Hardcore Drink Packets (Ignition Stix)
- Hydroxycut Max Drink Packets
- Hydroxycut Liquid Shots
- Hydroxycut Hardcore RTDs (Ready-to-Drink)
- Hydroxycut Max Aqua Shed
- Hydroxycut 24
- Hydroxycut Carb Control
- Hydroxycut Natural
The products contain a variety of ingredients and herbal extracts. The FDA has not determined which ingredients, dosages, or other factors are toxic and causing the health problems.
Katz said it has taken time to assess the Hydroxycut problem because the FDA has no authority to review supplements before they're marketed. "Part of the problem is that the FDA looks at dietary supplements from a post-market perspective, and an isolated incident is often difficult to follow," she told the AP.
Public health researcher Ano Lobb, who has studied Hydroxycut and other dietary supplements for Consumer Reports, said the problem may be an ingredient called hydroxycitric acid. Derived from a tropical fruit, it's been linked to liver problems in at least one medical journal study. Lobb said it's likely that other supplements containing the same ingredient remain on the market.
"You really have to be careful about dietary supplements, especially weight-loss pills," Lobb told the AP. "People believe that the FDA has verified that these products are at least safe and effective, and that's really not the case. When you see fantastic claims—that's generally what they are."
More information is available on the FDA's Web site.