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TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Bad news for dieters: a new study has found that a chemical found in chili peppers being touted as a weight loss aid may not help as much as its manufacturer would like people to think.
The chemical, called dihydrocapsiate, is "a great tool for weight management," said Jun Tashiro at Japanese food maker Ajinomoto, which produces the diet supplement Capsiate Natura.
But researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found no change in body weight and an increase of only 50 more calories burned a day after people took a pill containing the chemical.
Scientists and nutritionists have been interested in dihydrocapsiate as a dietary supplement because it is closely related to capsaicin, the compound that produces a burning feeling when diners eat chili peppers or spicy food.
While capsaicin has already been shown to help increase metabolism, but because of its extremely hot taste, the less pungent dihydrocapsiate could provide an alternative.
Ajinomoto's recommended daily dose of Capsiate Natura, which is only available in the United States through doctors, contains 3 milligrams of dihydrocapsiate.
That's the equivalent of 10 cayenne peppers, which Tashiro said most people can't eat because it upsets their stomachs or they don't like the flavor.
Researcher Eric Ravussin said his findings suggest the impact of dihydrocapsiate is negligible.
Researchers gave 78 healthy men a pill containing 0, 3 or 9 milligrams of the compound once a day for 4 weeks.
They found no change in body weight and only about 50 more calories burned per day instead of the 75 calories they had chosen as a goal.
Ravussin noted that any weight loss, through exercise or change of diet, leads to a lower metabolism since if you have less weight to move, your body needs fewer calories each day.
"Taking this as a supplement might be helpful but is not very relevant to weight loss overall," Ravussin told Reuters Health.
Repoting by Zach Gottlieb of Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies