Manufacturers of diet pills and supplements often promise the moon in the hope it will help sell their product, but rarely do those promises live up to reality.

Some such products don’t even receive approval from federal agencies before they hit the shelves.

And retailers say it’s up to consumers to ask questions about products before buying them.

“It is the customer’s own ownership to ask questions when they come in, to be well educated about what they are taking,” says Gbenga Adeniyi, owner of Healthy You Supplements in Kitchener.

Diet supplement products often like to make claims that some say have never been proven. Thanks to TV hosts like Dr. Oz, products like raspberry ketone and coffee bean extract have become among the more popular supplements.

“They’re saying that it helps you suppress your appetite, and we all know that part of weight loss is how you control or how you manage your habits,” says Adeniyi of one raspberry ketone product.

It sounds good on paper, but much as they are with the claims made by coffee bean extract products, experts are skeptical.

“There’s very few human studies,” says registered dietician Jane Dummer.

Adeniyi agrees no pill will produce magical results on its own, and some may even come with unintended side effects like gut rot, nausea or bladder problems.

“If you’re taking any pill, to sit down and not do anything, burn fat, you’ve got to ask yourself – what are the damages that’s doing to my system?” he says.

“How is that actually working, and what’s getting that fat to burn off?”

While natural health products that have been licensed by Health Canada can be identified by an eight-digit number on the label, government regulations allow for products that have yet to be licensed but have passed an initial safety assessment to be licensed as well.

Experts say natural supplements can produce different results in different people, and advise anyone thinking of using new products to first consult with a doctor.