If an individual or group develops a product or diet that they believe can help people to lose weight, they may use fat loss clinical studies to test the product’s effectiveness. In these experiments, the researchers are using human subjects, so many products have already undergone research with animals to test for safety. Dietary changes based on foods normally consumed are often exempt from the safety testing.
Any good scientific study begins with a hypothesis. The hypothesis is an educated guess. They may be simple or complex. However the study usually considers one factor at a time for simplicity. Changing many variables in the study can make interpreting the results difficult. Larger groups of study participants provides more reliable results.
In open trials, both the researcher and the participant knows what is being tested. These types of studies are often needed in a dietary study. The participant would need to know if he is to follow a certain diet or eating plan. Unfortunately, these types of experiments can introduce a bias into the results and may skew the data. Open trials are generally best if reserved for times there are no alternatives.
In the blind procedure, either the study participant or the researcher does not know which participant received the treatment. This type of study is often used in medication trials. Half the participants may be given a pill with the active ingredient and the other half a placebo. While eliminating some bias, the scientist may still unknowingly introduce factors that skew the study.
Double blind procedures offer the least chance of introducing bias. In these procedures, neither the study participant or the researcher knows who is receiving a placebo or the treatment until the study concludes. This is the preferred method for scientists, but not always possible, especially in dietary experiments.
In forming the study, the researcher also determines how data is to be gathered. Some studies about losing weight may look at weekly results while others may only look at the end results. These results are critical in determining the effectiveness of a diet or product.
In a good study, the researcher will use statistical analysis. This allows the research to find general trends within the population that was studied. The statistics allow the scientist to reject results that are out of line with the general trend of all participants.
Some experiments do not go as the researcher hypothesized. However, in research, a failed study often brings more questions to answer. In many cases the scientist will change another variable and try again. A failed study can still provide valuable information, even if it is that the product does not work as was first hypothesized. It can also help to identify any other positive or negative side effects.
In the United States, the FDA requires claims on a product label reveal if they have not been substantiated by an FDA approved study. Many nutritional supplements include the disclaimer that their claims have not been substantiated. However, they may have been the subject of one or more experiments using the above procedures.