Fraud Supplements for Weight Loss in Malaysia, should we be afraid?

Credits: nutraingredients-asia

It is safe to say that a lot of people in the world use health supplements as an alternative to acquiring nutrients. Because it does not require prescriptions, anyone can purchase health supplements

Health supplements can be available both online, in the pharmacy, and even in regular stores. Because compared to pharmaceutical drugs, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate health supplements. Thus, the reason why there are companies that are sold in the market without any proof of its safety and effectiveness.

Many online sites can sell health supplements, and it may be difficult to know which one is a safe product and is studied for efficacy.

Credits: CNA

Another reason why a lot of people turn to health supplements is due to online influencers. Influencers became a strategy for brands to market their products because of the amount of audience they can reach online by posting short videos and product shoots, and taking advantage of their online following. But it is also a concern for the consumers if the influencer is credible enough when it comes to marketing products.

Some influencers often post Instagram stories and Youtube videos of brands they promote but do not necessarily use. Furthermore, influencers may not be qualified to determine the safety and efficacy of the products that they choose to endorse, especially health supplements. It is important to be aware that the supplements we take are safe, and not buy into the hype of influencers or social media marketing. Below are cases of health supplements that have caused more harm than good.

Malaysian dietary supplement: Choco Fit

One of the countries that is not new to dietary supplement issues is Malaysia. Malaysia has producers of supplements that have been reported harmful and can cause severe illness to users.

A victim of a Malaysian supplement brand “Choco Fit” is Fauzi (Not his real name). Fauzi has a former weight of 90kg and was frustrated to lose weight. He saw an influencer promoting Choco Fit and was amazed by the results. In 3 months, Fauzi lost 3 to 6 kilograms by drinking the supplement. Without knowing that he was already in a severe condition.

Fauzi experienced chronic headaches and gastric problems after taking the supplement then he was advised to continue taking Choco Fit and stop after experiencing more gastric problems.

After suffering from chest pains, Fauzi went to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a severe case of acid reflux. An ingredient of the supplement called Guarana was the cause.

The product was reported and had been blacklisted in the country last 2019, but it was too late for Fauzi to stop his current condition.

Credits: Bello Smaze Facebook

Misleading Advertisements Online

A case in Singapore has led a 24-year old woman, Gillan (Not her real name) to have sudden suicidal thoughts, insomnia, and palpitations. The supplement Gillian consumed was a slimming drink from Malaysia called Bello Smaze. She claimed that she had cold sweat after a few hours of drinking Bello Smaze and suddenly felt depressed. Which she said was not normal. She also mentioned that the seller of the product introduced her to a certificate from Malaysian authorities saying that the Bello Smaze is safe to consume.

The content of Bello Smaze that triggered depression and suicidal thoughts of Gillian is called Sibutramine. The effects of the content on a person’s body are mood swings, heart attacks, and hallucinations.

Credits: International Business Times Singapore

Another product from Malaysia is BB body. A woman who is aged around 50 years old consumed the supplement that gave her an extreme heart rate after three months of use.

She saw an advertisement for BB body on Instagram and thought it would help her lose weight. Now, she had a defibrillator implanted to regulate her heart rhythm for the possibility that her heart might fail again after a year. She is also advised to take heart failure medications.

Malaysian supplementary products like Bello Smaze, BB Body, and Choco Fit were advertised on all social media platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram. They advertise their products that these weight loss supplements have no side effects and have big possibilities to reduce weight fast.

The Health Science Authority (HSA) has banned these weight loss products online to prevent consumers from getting the wrong impression of the products. All of the supplements mentioned were said to contain undeclared medicinal ingredients that have been banned for weight loss and steroids.

D Herb's Scandal and Fines

A local beauty and health product manufacturer has been charged with two charges for a misleading advertisement by the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s court. The manufacturer was fined 11,000 ringgit for being guilty of the charges.

The first charge was for claiming that their “Jus Perawan Gold'' was produced to help improve the immunization system. The second charge was for claiming their product “Air Masyur” can help blood circulation by the contents, Ginko Biloba in Honey. Both contrary to the provisions under Section 17 (1)(d) of the Food act 1983.

Unregistered Supplement Products in Malaysia and How to Check Legibility Online

There are also plenty of unregistered supplements and products sold around Malaysia. These can be available all over Malaysia, both on the streets and online. Some malls in Malaysia also continue selling unregistered supplements for customers who are still interested in the possible effects the supplements have been known for.

Products like Cala plus, ATC Herbs, SBC Miracle Herbs, MR, Candy B+, Soloco, and Catuaba. These products were known to have substances like Sibutramine which was mentioned as an ingredient same as Bello Smaze that can lead to hallucinations and Tadalafil which is a sex stimulant.

Cala Plus, Candy B+, ATC Herbs are available on online retail sites and Facebook up to this date.

To avoid getting fooled by supplements like these, some ways can help identify products in Malaysia:

  1. Drug Control Authority (DCA) of Malaysia Products that are registered under the DCA have a registration number and a hologram sticker. The registration number always starts with “MAL” and is followed by eight numbers and ends with T, A, X or N.
  2. National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency Maybe the DCA is easy to replicate. But being on the list of registered products by the DCA cannot be faked. The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency has a list of products that are approved and authorized by the DCA.
  3. Regulation 7B This allows consumers to have an added protection by being aware of the products that are indicated allowed and registered by the CDCR. If products are containing an ingredient that doesn’t belong to the list, it is sure to be unregistered. 
  4. Hologram Security Device As mentioned in number 1, DCA has a hologram sticker sealed at the product. Pharmaceutical products, traditional, and natural products should have a visible hologram tag or called “Meditag”. To check if it is legal or authentic, Pharmacys has a Meditag decoder or others can also download an app to verify the hologram.

How to Find the Right Supplements?

Supplements can be set aside because the real source of the things people get from these supplements is present in food. It is safer and sometimes cheaper. And the quality of nutrients people can get is better than supplements. But in some cases, it is hard to avoid that people need other resources to gain the missing nutrients the body needs. Here are a few important points to remember before buying health supplements.

  • Talk to a doctor

    It is best to find someone who can advise the perfect supplement that can provide the needs of the body. Supplements can also work in different situations, like for pregnant women, children, allergies, the elderly, people who went through surgery, or people with prior conditions. 

  • Deficiencies

    There are situations a person will need to go through some tests to be prescribed certain supplements. Some supplements may not work and can harm the body if used continuously. A doctor would normally prescribe health supplements to a patient when they have certain nutrient deficiencies. At the end of the day, it is best to follow the doctor’s advice

  • Research

    Before taking any supplements be aware of the different supplements out in the market. Some supplements contain the nutrition needed but have other components that can be dangerous. This is important for all kinds of supplements, either Vitamins, drinks, etc.

Always remember that whatever you put inside your body, may create certain effects. It is important to take note of the things we consume and not buy into the hype of influencers or social media personalities. Fake weight loss supplements can be dangerous substances. Not only does it not help you to lose weight, it might even cause more health problems on top of that.

Take extra care when consuming health supplements, make sure of their safety and efficacy, and remember that it is always best to seek the help of a certified health professional.It is important to seek proper help from Bariatric surgeons or weight loss doctors to lose weight in a safe & healthy manner than to take unknown pills off the internet.

Bariatric Surgeries may sound scary as you think that you might be going under the knives in the operating room in order to lose weight. However, a new revolutionary device is available in Malaysia for Weight Loss named Allurion Balloon. It requires no endoscopy, no surgery. It is a gastric balloon that comes in the form of a swallowable capsule that will reduce your appetite and help you lose *10-15% of your total body weight in 4 Months.

Please seek advice from a qualified doctor to assess eligibility for this program.