Weight Loss Patches: Do They Work?

Weight loss patches are similar to nicotine patches. Except dieters stick them on and should have fewer food cravings along with a boost in metabolism. At least that’s what marketers of the patches claim.

Before people invest their money and stick weight loss patches on with the hope they may be a miracle panacea for weight loss, it’s important to consider what health professionals, the FTC and the US Food and Drug administration have to say about their effectiveness.

Ingredients in Weight Loss Patches

Weight Loss PatchesThe ingredients in patches usually consist of a combination of natural ingredients like hoodia gordonii, seaweed and a stimulant, which purportedly control hunger and boost metabolism. In general, patches are typically applied once a day to the body anywhere there’s a a clean, dry, hairless place. The companies who sell the patches say active ingredients that promote weight loss get absorbed through the skin.

Patches Not Proved Effective

Consumers should be aware, however, that there is no evidence the patches work for weight control, and they could waste their money, says Xavier Pi-Sunyer, director of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York in the Wall Street Journal article “Do Patches Help Weight Loss?”

The main issue with weight loss patches, say experts, is they have not proved effective in rigorous clinical trials. Some clinical trials show that taking the ingredients in pill form helps with weight loss, but even in pill form evidence is lacking and results remain unclear. No concrete evidence exists that proves the ingredients get absorbed into the body through the patches.

“Just because a drug is effective when swallowed doesn’t mean the drug is going to be effective when put on the skin,” says Mark R. Prausnitz, director of the Center for Drug Design, Development and Delivery at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in Johannes’s article. In addition, says Prausnitz, a substance must be low in molecular weight and be oily to effectively pass through the skin, and it may have a different effect when taken orally in pill form.

Federal Trade Commission and Weight Loss Patches

Since 2004, the FTC has filed several legal actions in federal courts alleging violation of federal truth-in-advertising laws by companies marketing diet patches as weight-loss aids. Many companies of patches were ordered to stop making false weight loss claims.

According to the FTC, consumers should not count on any weight loss product that goes on the skin–especially weight loss patches.

Claims of Weight Loss Patches “Beyond Ridiculous”

In the Los Angeles Times article “Do Diet Patch Claims Stick?; Slap ’em On and Watch the Pounds Melt Away? Don’t Bet On It,” Dr. Howard Eisenson, executive director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C., says there may come a day when scientists might develop an effective weight-loss patch. But that day is probably still way off in the future. The patches on the market today “are beyond ridiculous,” he says. “The more hyperbolic the claims, the more people can quickly dismiss the product.”

US Food & Drug Administration and Dietary Products

Consumers of weight loss products like the patch and supplements should be aware that although the FDA has certain responsibilities to monitor dietary products after they become available on the market, federal law does not require dietary products to be proven safe and effective before they are marketed to the public.

Bogus promotions and advertisements for health products are everywhere, yet consumers respond to these ads and infomercials and spend billions of dollars every year hoping to find a cure for whatever ails them. Shrewd marketers take advantage of consumers mostly by exaggerating the claims of their products.

Before buying and using any dietary supplement or product, always check with a health professional first.


FTC: Skin Patches Do Not Cause Weight Loss. December 15, 2004.

Johannes, Laura. “Do Patches Help Weight Loss?” Wall Street Journal. November 15, 2010.

How to Spot Health Fraud.” US Food and Drug Administration.

Marketers of Weight-Loss Patch to Pay More Than $110,000 for Violating Previous FTC Settlements. September 20, 2008.

Weight-Loss Patch Manufacturer Banned from Selling Weight Loss Patches, Will Pay $180,000. August 20, 2007.

Woolston, Chris. “Do Diet Patch Claims Stick?; Slap ’em On and Watch the Pounds Melt Away? Don’t Bet On It.” Los Angeles Times. November 16, 2009. pg. E1.

4 thoughts on “Weight Loss Patches: Do They Work?

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