Hot Stuff

Hillary’s Hot Peppers for Obesity

Whether or not Hillary Clinton’s campaign’s momentum is real, it’s looking like Hillary’s hot peppers are gaining a little momentum in the scientific literature. A new review in the International Journal of Obesity by Angelo Tremblay and colleagues concludes:

The available evidence summarized in this paper supports the idea that capsaicinoid consumption may facilitate body weight management. This effect is explained by the thermogenic and appetite-reducing impact of capsaicin that is likely mediated by the stimulation of the sympathoadrenal system.

Capsaicinoids are the source of the heat in hot peppers. According to NPR, Clinton has been a big fan of hot peppers since 1992. We’ve been skeptical about her enthusiastic assurances that she has scientific research to back her belief that hot peppers are keeping her healthy and trim.

Tremblay and others who have reviewed the available evidence are all cautious to say that the evidence is suggestive of benefits for metabolic health and weight management, but that further clinical studies are needed. The caution is wise. Ask anyone who’s tried to develop options for managing obesity. The tortuous journey from a possibility to a real treatment option is not any easier or certain to succeed than Clinton’s effort to become president.

So, enjoy the hot peppers if you like them, but don’t count on them to guarantee your metabolic health.

Click here for the review by Tremblay et al, here for a meta-analysis of the effect of capsaicinoids on energy intake, and here for a review of their potential to promote metabolic and vascular health.

Hot Stuff, photograph © Georgie Sharp / flickr

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February 21, 2016