Olestra side effects, safety, danger
July 17 2017 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Olestra is comprised of sucrose with six to eight of its hydroxyl groups forming ester links with long-chain fatty acids. Because olestra is not hydrolyzed by fat-splitting enzymes in the small intestine, it is not absorbed from the small intestine into blood and tissues, and therefore provides no energy that can be utilized by the body.

The 1996 Food and Drug Administration approval of the fat substitute Olestra (sucrose polyester) called for active postmarketing surveillance because preapproval studies showed that Olestra may lower circulating concentrations of fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins and carotenoids. If you would like to lose weight naturally, see weight loss.

Olestra Side Effects and Olestra Warning, caution, safety
Active postmarketing surveillance study suggests that it induces small decreases in serum fat-soluble nutrientse. It is unclear how these small changes in nutrient measures and carotenoid reduction in the body would adversely affect health in the long run. Carotenoids are helpful in vision and tumor prevention. It remains to be seen whether excessive Olestra consumption leads to a higher incidence of chronic disease. There have been reports of short term Olestra side effects that include gastrointestinal symptoms.

Daily intake of multivitamins during long-term intake of olestra in men prevents declines in serum vitamins A and E but not carotenoids.
J Nutr. 2005. Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA
The objective of this study was to determine whether vitamin supplementation during long-term (36 wk) ingestion of olestra supplemented with vitamin E could prevent decreases in vitamin E, vitamin A, and carotenoids. This was a 36-wk study of 37 healthy males randomly assigned to consume a control diet composed of 33% energy from fat, a similar diet in which one third of the energy from fat had been replaced with olestra, or a fat-reduced (25% of energy from fat) diet. Subjects also ingested a daily multivitamin (Centrum). Serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol, retinol, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein + zeaxanthin were analyzed by HPLC. Subjects eating the olestra-containing diet had substantial decreases in serum beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein + zeaxanthin, which occurred by 12 wk; these changes were found despite correcting for serum total cholesterol or BMI. Serum beta-carotene and lycopene concentrations were below the lower limit of the reference range at one or more time points. The slight decline in serum alpha-tocopherol concentration, significant at 24 wk, was caused by the decline in serum cholesterol. Retinol concentrations decreased with time in all 3 groups, but were not affected by olestra. We conclude that supplementation with a multivitamin containing vitamins A and E was adequate to prevent olestra-induced decrease in serum alpha-tocopherol and retinol. Olestra -induced decreases in serum beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein + zeaxanthin were not prevented by the vitamin supplement used in this study.

Br J Nutr. 2010. Impact of adopting a vegan diet or an olestra supplementation on plasma organochlorine concentrations: results from two pilot studies. The aim of these studies was to evaluate the potential of some nutritional approaches to prevent or reduce the body load of organochlorines (OC) in humans. Study 1 compared plasma OC concentrations between vegans and omnivores while study 2 verified if the dietary fat substitute olestra could prevent the increase in OC concentrations that is generally observed in response to a weight-reducing programme. In conclusion, there was a trend toward lesser contamination in vegans than in omnivores, and olestra had a favourable influence on beta-HCH but did not prevent plasma hyperconcentration of the other OC during ongoing weight loss.

Olestra - Can you trust the opinions of experts?
Read this study and make up your own mind.
Authors' financial relationships with the food and beverage industry and their published positions on the fat substitute olestra.
Am J Public Health. 2003. Kids Can Make A Difference, Kittery Point, ME, USA
This study examined the association between authors' published positions on the safety and efficacy in assisting with weight loss of the Procter & Gamble (P&G) fat substitute olestra and their financial relationships with the food and beverage industry. Journal articles about olestra, and their authors, were classified as supportive, critical, or neutral with respect to its use. Authors not known to have industry affiliations were surveyed about their financial relationships. Supportive authors were significantly more likely than critical or neutral authors to have financial relationships with P&G (80% vs 11% and 21%, respectively). All authors disclosing an affiliation with P&G were supportive.

My Opinion on using this medication
Few of us have a perfect diet, hence we don't need to be purists. If you consumer Olestra on an occasional basis, there is little to be concerned about. However, if you have been consuming Olestra food products on a consistent basis, you may consider reducing your intake of such Olestra products and visiting a health food store to find other options that could satisfy your eating habits.