Chitosan supplementation and fat absorption in men and women

Matthew D. Gades, Judith S. Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Chitosan is a primary ingredient in dietary weight-loss supplements. Its claimed activity is the binding and trapping of dietary fat, leading to fat excretion and weight loss without caloric restriction. We tested the fat-trapping capacity of a chitosan product in men and women. Participants (12 men, 12 women) were instructed to follow customized diet plans (five meals/day for 12 days). Oral charcoal markers defined two 4-day experimental periods. Two capsules were taken five times per day before each meal during the supplement period (2.5 g chitosan/day) and not during the control period. Feces were collected from day 2 to day 12. Feces from each period were pooled and analyzed for fat content. For men (mean±standard deviation=24.8±5.1 years, body mass index [BMI; calculated as kg/m 2] 26.6±4.5) the average daily was 137±31 g fat and 3,256±624 kcal. For women (23.3±5.0 years, BMI 24.1±3.5) average daily 89±16 g fat and 2,110±195 kcal. Each two-capsule dose was consumed with 28±11 g fat in males and 18±7 g in females (range =10-76 g/dose). Fecal fat excretion increased with chitosan by 1.8±2.4 g/day in males, P=.02, and did not increase with chitosan (0.0±1.4 g/day, P=.99) in females. The fat trapped was clinically insignificant. For men, it would take more than 7 months to lose 1 pound of body fat. For women, no fat was trapped. This product, as with other similar products, fails to meet claims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-77
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine(all)


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