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Natural Foods Merchandiser

NFM Secret Shopper: What supplements will help me lose weight?

NFM Secret Shopper: What supplements will help me lose weight?
Each month, NFM's secret shopper heads incognito into a natural products store with a question. The employee's answer—and our expert's evaluation of the response—is reported here. Our aim: to help you improve your store's customer service.

Store: Independent natural products store in the Northeast

NFM: Can you suggest a supplement to help me lose weight? 

STORE: Do you have any ongoing health problems? Are you on any medication?

NFM: No.

STORE: I am a big fan of food-based weight-loss aids like crystallized ginger. We carry a digestive enzyme complex and this Thermo Burn fat burner. Supplements can be part of a well-balanced approach to weight loss, but patience is very important. You might lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, but each person is different and these won’t work the same with everyone. If one supplement doesn’t seem to work after a period of time, you may want to try another. Colon cleansing can also help.

Margo Gasta, RD, owner of Santa Vie Nutrition and Homeopathy in Boulder, Colo.

Margo GastaTo steer the shopper away from potentially harmful products, the retailer did a great job in asking about health issues and medications. He was also responsible in stating that any weight-loss supplement must be used in addition to a well-balanced program and that only a slow rate of weight loss should be expected. But I do not agree with his colon-cleansing recommendation. Instead, he should have suggested the shopper work with a qualified nutritionist or dietitian to address the whole weight-loss picture.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act prohibits retailers from offering medical advice. The employee should have mentioned this restriction and then helped the customer research weight-loss ingredients backed by sound science. Fiber, green tea extract, calcium and conjugated linoleic acid have been shown to help with weight management, so he could have pointed out products that contain these ingredients.

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