Diet supplement made from oranges may be risky

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

October 26, 2003|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

What can you tell me about the weight-loss supplement bitter orange? Is it safe?

Bitter orange is an extract taken from the Seville orange. Touted as an ephedra-free diet supplement, it contains synephrine, an appetite suppressant and metabolism booster. While it's too soon to know for sure, early studies show that the side effects may not be all that different from those of ephedra.

Especially when taken with caffeine, users run the risk of heart and blood pressure problems. The bottom line: diet supplements are never worth the risk. Exercise and a balanced diet are the best way to get -- and stay -- fit.

I'm generally in good shape, but I have a wicked sweet tooth. Recently a friend joked that I'm going to make myself diabetic eating so much sugar. I'm not overweight. Could I really develop diabetes?

Devouring a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream won't do wonders for your health or your figure. The good news is, it also won't lead to diabetes. Studies have shown that Type II diabetes, the form closely linked to obesity, is not related to the amount of sugar you eat.

Just to be sure, we checked in with registered dietician Cynthia Finley, of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center. "I have not seen any literature or heard any endocrinologist say that eating too much sugar causes diabetes," she says.

But before you go dipping your hand in the cookie jar, remember that there are many other reasons not to overdo the sweets.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@ baltsun.com.

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