The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that approximately 7 percent of American adults use nonprescription weight-loss products. Two of the most popular over-the-counter diet drugs are Xenadrine and Hydroxycut. Consumers need to decipher many of the marketing claims and lists of proprietary ingredients to compare the products available.
Examine the claims. Hydroxycut and Xenadrine claim that taking the drug results in losing more weight than dieting alone. Both product websites cite eight- and 12-week studies that showed a significant weight loss in people taking their drug compared to the placebo group. All of the trials were performed with subjects following a reduced-calorie diet. Neither site provides an independent reference for the study data.
Consider caffeine content. Dr. Scott L. Willis of the Walter Reed Army Hospital determined that a daily dose of Hydroxycut contains 600 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of six cups of coffee. Xenadrine contains 239 milligrams. Both products claim an energy boost. Caffeine-free versions of the original formulas that contain green coffee extract, or Coffea canephora robusta, are available.
Read the labels. Both products contain vitamin C and calcium. Xenadrine adds a 20 percent Recommended Dietary Allowance of B vitamins. The manufacturers' websites indicate that Xenadrine's Lipo-CoreTM and Hydroxycut's HydroxyproviaTM proprietary blends contain the same four extracts: lady's mantle, wild olive leaf, comino seed and mint. Xenadrine adds pABA--para-aminobenzoic acid--and a phytosterol complex. Hydroxycut includes anti-oxidants from goji, blueberry, pomegranate and bilberry extracts. Product labels from national pharmacy chain websites show different ingredient lists for Hydroxycut Pro Clinical and Xenadrine Ultra. Read the ingredient lists on the packages carefully.
Evaluate side effects. The Food and Drug Administration alerted consumers in May 2009 about serious liver problems resulting from the use of Hydroxycut products. Twenty-three incidents ranging from jaundice to liver damage requiring a transplant and one death were reported to the FDA. Other reported side effects included seizures, cardiovascular problems and muscle damage. Since the FDA ban on ephedra in 2004, no adverse effects have been published by the FDA on Xenadrine.
Consult a doctor. As with starting any new treatment, consult a doctor first.