A Pilot Study of Chromium Picolinate for Weight Loss
Yuka Yazaki, N.D.,
Zubaida Faridi, M.B.B.S., M.P.H.,
Yingying Ma, M.D., M.S.,
Ather Ali, N.D., M.P.H.,
Veronika Northrup, M.P.H.,
Valentine Yanchou Njike, M.D.,
Lauren Liberti, M.S.,
and David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H.
Background: Chromium is an essential trace element and nutritional supplement that has garnered interest for
use as a weight loss aid.
Objective: This trial assesses the effects of chromium picolinate supplementation, alone and combined with
nutritional education, on weight loss in apparently healthy overweight adults.
Design: This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 80 otherwise healthy, overweight
adults assessed at baseline for central adiposity measured by computerized tomography. Subjects were ran-
domly assigned to daily ingestion of 1000 mg of chromium picolinate or placebo for 24 weeks. All subjects
received passive nutritional education at the 12-week point in both the intervention and control groups. Out-
comes include weight, height, blood pressure, percent body fat, serum, and urinary biomarkers.
Results: At baseline, both the chromium and placebo groups had similar mean body mass index (BMI)
(chromium ¼36 6.7 kg=m
versus placebo ¼36.1 7.6 kg=m
;p¼0.98). After 12 weeks, no change was seen in
BMI in the intervention as compared to placebo (chromium ¼0.3 0.8 kg=m
versus placebo ¼0.0 0.4 kg=m
p¼0.07). No change was seen in BMI after 24 weeks in the intervention as compared to placebo
(chromium ¼0.1 0.2 kg=m
versus placebo ¼0.0 0.5 kg=m
;p¼0.81). Variation in central adiposity did not
affect any outcome measures.
Conclusions: Supplementation of 1000 mg of chromium picolinate alone, and in combination with nutritional
education, did not affect weight loss in this population of overweight adults. Response to chromium did not
vary with central adiposity.
Over 65% of adults in the United States are overweight
or obese, deﬁned as a body mass index (BMI) at or above
25 or 30 kg=m
The health consequences of
obesity are well characterized.
A strong relationship exists
between BMI and all-cause mortality
; obesity contributes
substantially to cardiovascular risk,
and excess body
weight is a potent risk factor for most cancers.
ing the health consequences of obesity, there is a growing
need for safe and effective aids to weight loss.
The Nutrition Business Journal reported that supplement
sales grew from $8.6 to $23.7 billion between 1994 and
Sports nutrition and weight loss supplements ac-
counted for approximately 27% of total sales.
Despite the growing consumer market for use of dietary
supplements, efﬁcacy in weight loss remains unsubstanti-
ated. A 2004 systematic review concluded that the evidence
for most dietary supplements as aids in reducing body
weight is inconclusive.
A notable exception is ephedra,
found to be an effective weight loss aid,
from the market by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
in 2004 due to safety concerns.
Chromium is an essential trace element and nutritional
supplement that has garnered interest for use as a weight
Purported beneﬁts of supplementation include
increased lean body mass, decreased body fat, and greater
resting energy expenditure.
Chromium has been thought to be the active ingredient in
glucose tolerance factor, a complex of molecules that in-
cludes glycine, cysteine, glutamic acid, nicotinic acid, and
This complex of molecules found in high
amounts in brewer’s yeast and other foods functions syner-
gistically to potentiate the effects of insulin
insulin binding to cells, upregulating receptors, and improv-
Some reports suggest that chromium could
Yale-Grifﬁn Prevention Research Center, Derby, CT.
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.
THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE
Volume 16, Number 3, 2010, pp. 291–299
ªMary Ann Liebert, Inc.
suppress appetite and stimulate thermogenesis through
sensitization of insulin-sensitive glucoreceptors in the brain.
Body fat distribution is related to insulin sensitivity; pe-
ripheral fat is more insulin sensitive than central fat found in
the chest and abdomen.
A meta-analysis of 10 double-blind, placebo-controlled
trials provides evidence of a relatively small reduction in
body weight (1.1–1.2 kg over 10–13 weeks) in overweight
and obese individuals receiving chromium picolinate.
This trial was designed to assess the effects of chromium
picolinate supplementation alone and combined with a nu-
trition education intervention on weight loss in both men
and women, and to assess any effects attributable to an-
thropometry (body fat distribution).
A total of 80 adults (40 female and 40 male) were recruited
from the Lower Naugatuck Valley, CT, through newspaper
advertisements and posters in medical ofﬁces afﬁliated with
Grifﬁn Hospital (Fig. 1). All participants were overweight
(body–mass index [BMI] >25 kg=m
) nonsmoking adults
ages 25–75 with abdominal adiposity (waist circumference
>80 cm in females and >100 cm in males).
included contraindication to abdominal computed tomo-
graphy (CT) scans (weight >375 pounds, claustrophobia,
unstable vital signs, or radiation procedure in past 6 months),
diagnosed diabetes, diagnosed eating disorder, uncontrolled
hypertension, emphysema, intestinal or stomach disease, kid-
ney disease (serum creatinine >2), substance abuse, preg-
nancy, or intention to become pregnant during the study.
Those meeting initial prescreening criteria (n¼156) un-
derwent clinical screening examination consisting of height,
weight, BMI, blood pressure, and waist–hip measurements
and blood proﬁles inclusive of lipid panel (total cholesterol,
high-density lipoprotein [HDL], low-density lipoprotein
[LDL] and triglycerides), comprehensive metabolic panel,
fasting plasma glucose, fasting insulin, C-reactive protein, and
lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2). In ad-
dition, percent body fat was recorded via bioelectrical im-
pedance using the Bio Analogics ELGII Health Management
System (HMS; www.bioanalogics.com). A urine pregnancy
test for human chorionic gonadotropin was performed on
female patients to ascertain nonpregnant status at baseline.
The study protocol and consent form were approved by
the Grifﬁn Hospital (Derby, CT) Institutional Review Board
and the Yale University (New Haven, CT) Human In-
vestigation Committee. Written informed consent was ob-
tained, and all subjects received $150 for their participation.
Subjects signed a written study commitment agreement ex-
plaining the number of visits, outcome measures, and focus
on weight, percent body fat, and cardiac risk measures.
Subjects were randomized to daily ingestion of 1000 mgof
chromium picolinate or placebo (1630 mg of dicalcium
phosphate). The 1000 mg dose was chosen because it has been
shown to be safe and effective in modifying blood sugar and
and used in other clinical trials.
randomized to chromium picolinate were instructed to in-
gest a 500-mg capsule twice per day during the intervention
period for a total ingestion of 1000 mg per day for 6 months.
Those randomized to placebo were instructed to ingest an
815-mg capsule twice per day during the intervention period
for a total ingestion of 1630 mg of dicalcium phosphate.
Subjects were instructed to consume these capsules with
water with morning and evening meals and to continue with
their usual dietary patterns and physical activity routines for
the ﬁrst 12 weeks of intervention.
A low-intensity nutrition education and weight loss pro-
gram commenced at 12 weeks up to the 24-week point in
both the intervention and control groups. This lifestyle in-
tervention was reﬂective of the fact that in any real-world
setting, a patient interested in weight loss would be unlikely
to rely solely on a chromium supplement. In all probability,
some effort at ‘‘dieting’’ would accompany use of the sup-
plement. The program consisted of free access to a weight
loss website (www.thewaytoeat.net) and a copy of a book on
nutrition and weight management.
The nutrition education
intervention was implemented at week 12 in order to assess
any differential effects between chromium alone or in con-
junction with the nutrition education intervention, and to
standardize the weight loss efforts of study participants. It
was meant to substitute for independent weight loss efforts
by the participants, and=or the basic weight loss advice pa-
tients would be likely to receive from a primary care provider.
This trial assessed the effects of chromium picolinate
supplementation, alone and combined with nutritional ed-
ucation on weight loss in apparently healthy overweight
Weight, height, and blood pressure were measured at each
visit. Prior to each assessment, subjects fasted for 8 hours for
serum and bioimpedance measures. Body weight was mea-
sured to the nearest 0.5 pound using a balance-type medical
scale. Height was measured in inches with instructions for
the subject to stand on the middle of the scale with back
against the measuring bar standing straight, without shoes,
heels together. Two (2) readings of blood pressure were
taken in a seated position 10 minutes apart using an elec-
tronic sphygmomanometer. Other outcome measures in-
cluded waist–hip ratio, percent body fat, central adiposity,
serology, and urine chromium.
Waist circumference was measured around the narrowest
point between ribs and hips when viewed from the front
after exhaling. Hip circumference was measured at the point
where the buttocks extended the maximum, when viewed
from the side. Recordings were made for each site to the
nearest 1 cm using a cloth tape without compression of
Percent body fat was recorded via bioelectrical impedance.
The imperceptible electrical current was passed through
electrodes in the subject’s foot and hand to compute body
density and body-fat percentage. The primary outcome
measure was to demonstrate a decrease in body fat from
baseline in adults with BMI 25, due to sustained ingestion
of chromium picolinate. Resistance and reactance were
measured with the Bio Analogic ELG II and the percent body
292 YAZAKI ET AL.
fat was determined with the use of Health Management
System software (www.bioanalogics.com).
For bioelectrical impedance scans, subjects were instructed
to fast and refrain from exercise 8 hours before the scan.
Subjects were also instructed to refrain from drinking alcohol
24 hours before the scan. Additional instructions included
removing metallic jewelry and maintaining adequate hy-
dration the day before the scan.
Assessed for eligibility
Not meeting eligibility critieria (n=53)
~Failed phone screen
123 Eligible for clinical screening
47 Not interested or Unable to Contact
156 Completed Clinical Screening
3 Refused to participate
Lost to follow-up (n=1) Lost to follow-up (n= 3)
- CT scan
- CT scan
Lost to follow-up (n= 2)
Discontinued intervention (n= 2) Lost to follow-up (n= 3)
Discontinued intervention (n= 2)
Lost to follow-up (n= 2)
Discontinued intervention (n= 3)
Lost to follow-up (n= 4)
Assigned to chromium picolinate
Assigned to placebo
FIG. 1. Study ﬂow diagram. CT, computed tomography.
CHROMIUM PICOLINATE FOR WEIGHT LOSS 293
Central adiposity was measured at baseline to determine
the area of subcutaneous versus visceral adipose tissue.
Central adiposity was measured on a 16-slice helical G
scanner at Grifﬁn Hospital, using standard procedures.
Subjects lay supine with their arms over their heads. A CT
scan was performed at the abdominal level (between L4 and
L5 vertebrae), using a radiograph of the skeleton as a refer-
ence to establish the position of the scan to the nearest mil-
limeter. Total abdominal adipose tissue area was calculated
by delineating the surface with a graph pen and then com-
puting the adipose tissue surface using an attenuation
range of 190 to 30 Hounsﬁeld units using sliceOmatic
image analysis software.
The abdominal subcutaneous
adipose tissue area was calculated by subtracting the vis-
ceral adipose tissue area from the total abdominal adipose
tissue area using previously published criteria.
lations for subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue were
performed at Ho
ˆpital Laval Research Center, Que
At each visit, lipid proﬁle, fasting plasma glucose, fasting
insulin, Lp-PLA2, and C-reactive protein (CRP) were assessed.
All screening and serum laboratory assays with the exception
of Lp-PLA2 and CRP were performed at Grifﬁn Hospital.
Lp-PLA2 and CRP analysis were performed at diaDexus,
Inc. (www.diadexus.com). Liver and kidney function were
monitored throughout the study by serum measurements of
transaminases, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine.
Subjects also provided a urine specimen for analysis
of chromium output to corroborate self-report of regular use
of treatment assignment. Urine chromium was collected at
Grifﬁn Hospital and was analyzed by Quest Laboratories.
tely 20% attrition and noncompliance per treatment arm and
provide at least 80% power with maximum allowable type I
error of 5%. The study was speciﬁcally powered to compare
chromium to placebo and demonstrate a 5.1% decrease in
percent body fat (the primary outcome) from baseline due to
sustained (daily for 12 weeks) ingestion of 1000 mgofchro-
mium picolinate (500 mg BID) compared to placebo.
Subjects were enrolled and randomized using balanced
allocation within gender to ensure that an equal number of
males and females were randomized to receive chromium
and placebo. (Fig. 1). Outcome assessments were made at
baseline, 12 weeks, and 24 weeks to identify the singular
effects of chromium and placebo on weight loss, as well as
the combined effects of chromium in the context of a nutri-
tion education intervention.
Subjects and study personnel were blinded to the inter-
vention. Chromium and placebo were prepackaged and
shipped from the manufacturer to the study site. Bottles were
labeled and coded by an unblinded individual unafﬁliated
with the study. Investigators thus only knew the treatment
assignment (group A or B) of the subjects without knowl-
edge of whether these contained chromium or placebo.
Repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to de-
termine change in percent body weight, BMI, and serology
after intervention between the two treatment groups. Paired
ttests were also used to evaluate the change from baseline
(pretreatment) in percent body fat, weight, BMI, and se-
rology following each treatment. The combined effects of
independent variables (abdominal fat distribution and de-
mographics) and treatment assignment on these outcomes
were assessed with multivariable models using analysis of
Analysis was performed using the SAS for Windows
version 9.1 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC) software. In all analy-
ses, a two-tailed aof less than 0.05 was considered statisti-
cally signiﬁcant. Results are expressed as means standard
deviation (SD) in text and tables.
The two treatment arms were comparable ( p>0.05) at
baseline (Table 1) for all the outcome measures (i.e., an-
thropometric measures, blood pressure, serology, and urine
chromium). The study participants in both treatment groups
were overweight or obese at baseline (intervention group
mean BMI ¼36 kg=m
; control group BMI ¼36.1 kg=m
Subjects randomized to chromium picolinate had compa-
rable urinary chromium to subjects receiving placebo
(p¼0.33). Of the subjects completing the trial (n¼58), 44
subjects (76%) had pill counts reﬂecting greater than 80%
One subject in the chromium picolinate group experienced
urticaria 35 days after initiating daily supplement intake. He
was instructed to immediately cease taking the supplement,
and the urticaria resolved within 4 days.
After 12 weeks (chromium alone) (Table 2)
Anthropometric measures. After intervention for 12
weeks, there was no change in BMI in the chromium group
as compared to the placebo group (chromium ¼0.3
versus placebo ¼0.0 0.4 kg=m
larly, there was no change in percent body fat as compared
to placebo (chromium ¼0.3 1.2 versus placebo ¼0.8 3.8;
Serology. No change was seen in fasting plasma glucose
(FPG) and fasting serum insulin (FSI) levels from baseline
(FPG: chromium ¼0.0 3.1 mg=dL versus placebo ¼1.2
4.3 mg=dL; p¼0.15; insulin: chromium ¼0.8 1.9 m=mL ver-
sus placebo ¼0.5 1.6m=mL; p¼0.50). Lp-PLA2 and cell
adhesion molecules (CAM) decreased nonsigniﬁcantly
in the chromium group, as compared to placebo (Lp-PLA2:
chromium ¼3.8 44.7 ng=mL versus placebo ¼6.3 44.3
ng=mL; p¼0.36; CAM: chromium ¼1.4 18.1 nmol=min=
mL vers us placebo ¼0.5 19.8 nmol=min=mL; p¼0.86). CRP
increased nonsigniﬁcantly in the chromium group, as com-
pared to placebo (chromium ¼36.4 341.0 mg=dL versus
placebo ¼15.7 202.2 mg=dL; p¼0.78).
294 YAZAKI ET AL.
Lipids. The total cholesterol=HDL ratio did not change in
the chromium group as compared to the placebo group
(chromium ¼0.0 0.3 versus placebo ¼0.0 0.2; p¼0.78).
After 24 weeks (chromium in the context
of lifestyle intervention)
Anthropometric measures. After intervention for 24
weeks, there was no change in BMI in the chromium group
as compared to the placebo group (chromium ¼0.1
versus placebo ¼0.0 0.5 kg=m
larly, no improvement was observed in percent body fat as
compared to placebo (chromium ¼0.2 1.0 versus placebo ¼
0.9 3.8; p¼0.13).
Serology. Fasting plasma glucose and fasting serum in-
sulin levels in the chromium group did not improve as
compared to the placebo group (FPG: chromium ¼1.0
Table 1. Baseline Values
Outcome measures Chromium picolinate (n¼40) Placebo (n¼40) p-value
) 36.0 6.7 36.1 7.6 0.98
Waist–hip ratio 0.9 0.1 0.9 0.1 0.94
Total body fat (%) 35.9 8.6 37.2 0.1 0.48
Systolic (mm Hg) 132.5 16.6 137.1 17.6 0.23
Diastolic (mm Hg) 79.5 9.7 80.9 10.9 0.55
Fasting plasma glucose (mg=dL) 100.0 9.9 100.3 10.6 0.91
Fasting serum insulin (m=mL) 8.7 4.6 9.8 6.7 0.43
Lp-PLA2 (PLAC test) (ng=mL) 222.9 57.0 222.1 67.0 0.96
Cellular adhesion molecules (nmol=min=mL) 149.9 32.0 139.3 42.2 0.29
High-sensitivity CRP (mg=dL) 223.2 303.7 267.4 267.1 0.53
Triglyceride (mg=dL) 114.4 60.1 119.7 66.4 0.71
Cholesterol (mg=dL) 196.8 35.1 191.2 35.9 0.48
HDL (mg=dL) 50.5 12.7 48.4 11.6 0.43
LDL (mg=dL) 123.6 31.0 120.4 32.5 0.65
Cholesterol=HDL ratio 4.1 1.2 4.1 1.0 0.95
Basic metabolic panel
BUN (mg=dL) 14.9 4.0 15.4 3.4 0.49
Creatinine (mg=dL) 1.0 0.2 1.0 0.1 0.63
Sodium (mEq=L) 140.4 1.4 140.2 1.5 0.59
Potassium (mEq=L) 4.1 0.3 4.2 0.3 0.22
Chloride (mEq=L) 102.4 2.4 102.0 2.0 0.45
(mEq=L) 28.3 2.2 30.2 11.5 0.30
Calcium (mg=dL) 9.2 0.4 9.4 0.3 0.13
Anion gap 9.8 1.8 9.8 1.8 0.90
BUN=creatinine ratio 15.6 4.3 16.0 3.7 0.65
Total protein (g=dL) 7.1 1.1 7.3 0.4 0.45
Albumin (g=dL) 4.1 0.3 4.1 0.3 0.97
AST (IU=L) 22.7 4.9 24.8 5.8 0.09
ALT (IU=L) 34.410.6 35.8 12.0 0.58
Alkaline phosphate (IU=L) 74.5 16.7 76.9 19.0 0.55
Total bilirubin (mg=dL) 0.5 0.3 0.5 0.3 0.83
Globulin (g=dL) 3.2 0.3 3.1 0.3 0.91
Albumin=globulin ratio 1.7 0.4 1.3 0.2 0.37
Chromium=creatinine ratio 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.2 0.94
Urine chromium (ng=mL) 0.2 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.35
Urine creatinine (mg=dL) 138.4 65.8 149.9 59.2 0.57
Surface of total adipose tissue at L4–L5 level (cm
) 586.1 179.3 598.3 175.2 0.81
Attenuation of total adipose tissue at L4–L5 level (HU) 96.6 3.9 96.2 3.6 0.75
Surface of visceral adipose tissue at L4–L5 level (cm
) 199.2 85.9 207.0 110.1 0.73
Attenuation of visceral adipose tissue at L4–L5 level (HU) 88.1 5.7 88.4 6.7 0.80
Surface of subcutaneous adipose tissue at L4–L5 level (cm
) 401.2 120.4 399.1 110.4 0.95
Attenuation of subcutaneous adipose tissue at L4-L5 level (HU) 99.4 4.3 98.6 3.9 0.49
Sagittal diameter at L4–L5 level (cm) 29.1 4.6 29.0 5.2 0.97
BMI, body–mass index; Lp-PLA2, lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2; CRP, C-reactive protein; HDL, high-density lipoprotein;
LDL, low-density lipoprotein; BUN, blood urea nitrogen; AST, aspartate aminotransferase; ALT, alanine aminotransferase; CT, computed
tomography; HU, Hounsﬁeld units.
CHROMIUM PICOLINATE FOR WEIGHT LOSS 295
4.5 mg=dL versus placebo ¼1.0 3.8 mg=dL; p¼1.00; FSI:
chromium ¼0.2 2.1 m=mL versus placebo ¼0.2 3.0
m=mL; p¼0.54). CRP and CAM decreased nonsigniﬁcantly
in the chromium group as compared to placebo (CRP: chro-
mium ¼25.0 141.6 mg=dL versus placebo ¼5.6 154.5
mg=dL; p¼0.60; CAM: chromium ¼4.0 21.6 nmol=
min=mL versus placebo ¼0.2 16.8 nmol=min=mL; p¼
0.44). Lp-PLA2 increased nonsigniﬁcantly in the chromium
group as compared to placebo (chromium ¼7.9 57.8 ng=mL
versus placebo ¼0.3 56.3 ng=mL; p¼0.56).
Lipids. The total cholesterol=HDL ratio did not im-
prove in the chromium group as compared to the placebo
(chromium ¼0.1 0.4 versus placebo ¼0.0 0.3; p¼0.73).
Analysis using multivariable models controlling for vis-
ceral fat distribution and demographics did not signiﬁcantly
In this study of 80 overweight or obese adult men and
women with elevated waist circumference, chromium sup-
plementation did not improve weight, blood glucose, percent
body fat, or lipid measures. To our knowledge, this is the
ﬁrst study to examine the effects of the ingestion of 1000 mg
of chromium picolinate combined with a nutrition education
intervention on weight loss.
Previous studies suggest that the primary factor for a
clinical response to chromium is insulin resistance.
Table 2. Change in Outcome Measures from Baseline Values
12 weeks 24 weeks
) 0.3 0.8 0.0 0.4 0.07 0.1 0.2 0.0 0.5 0.81
Waist–hip ratio 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.18 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.16
Total body fat (%) 0.3 1.2 0.8 3.8 0.11 0.2 1.0 0.9 3.8 0.13
Systolic (mm Hg) 1.3 8.3 0.5 6.3 0.30 1.5 6.2 1.2 6.7 0.07
Diastolic (mm Hg) 0.5 6.9 0.4 5.2 0.55 1.4 6.7 0.3 4.5 0.21
Fasting plasma glucose (mg=dL) 0.0 3.1 1.2 4.3 0.15 1.0 4.5 1.0 3.8 1.00
Fasting serum insulin (m=mL) 0.8 1.9 0.5 1.6 0.50 0.2 2.1 0.2 3.0 0.54
Lp-PLA2 (PLAC test) (ng=mL) 3.8 44.7 6.3 44.3 0.36 7.9 57.8 0.3 56.3 0.56
Cellular adhesion molecules (nmol=min=mL) 1.4 18.1 0.5 19.8 0.86 4.0 21.6 0.2 16.8 0.44
High-sensitivity CRP (mg=dL) 36.4 341.0 15.7 202.2 0.78 25.0 141.6 5.6 154.5 0.60
Triglyceride (mg=dL) 0.4 21.5 3.3 18.9 0.42 5.3 25.2 5.0 23.7 0.95
Cholesterol (mg=dL) 1.6 10.7 3.4 14.8 0.53 5.6 10.7 2.7 14.0 0.31
HDL (mg=dL) 0.3 2.8 0.4 3.5 0.81 1.3 5.4 0.3 3.7 0.34
LDL (mg=dL) 1.5 10.6 1.3 12.7 0.96 3.3 10.3 0.5 11.8 0.25
Cholesterol=HDL ratio 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.2 0.93 0.1 0.4 0.0 0.3 0.73
Basic metabolic panel
BUN (mg=dL) 0.2 1.6 0.4 1.7 0.74 0.2 1.2 0.1 1.7 0.41
Creatinine (mg=dL) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.63 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.20
Sodium (mEq=L) 0.1 1.0 0.1 0.7 0.34 0.0 1.0 0.1 0.7 0.70
Potassium (mEq=L) 0.0 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.047 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.30
Chloride (mEq=L) 0.0 0.7 0.0 1.1 1.00 0.1 0.8 0.2 1.3 0.83
(mEq=L) 0.6 1.1 0.3 0.9 0.12 0.4 1.1 0.1 1.0 0.12
Calcium (mg=dL) 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.95 0.1 0.3 0.0 0.2 0.13
Anion gap 0.7 1.1 0.2 0.8 0.05 0.5 1.0 0.4 0.8 0.62
BUN=creatinine ratio 0.0 1.9 0.2 2.3 0.70 0.2 1.2 0.3 1.7 0.21
Total protein (g=dl) 0.3 1.1 0.1 0.2 0.24 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.81
Albumin (g=dL) 0.0 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.89 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.28
AST (IU=L) 0.8 2.6 0.1 1.0 0.04 8.7 47.8 0.2 2.5 0.27
ALT (IU=L) 1.2 4.2 0.4 2.8 0.29 10.0 49.7 1.3 4.6 0.28
Alkaline phosphate (IU=L) 1.4 4.7 0.9 3.6 0.61 3.8 10.8 1.3 4.2 0.18
Total bilirubin (mg=dL) 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.90 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.82
Globulin (g=dL) 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.34 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.33
Albumin=globulin ratio 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.81 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.31
Chromium=creatinine ratio 6.8 6.2 0.0 0.2 0.07
Urine chromium (ng=mL) 0.4 1.4 0.0 0.1 0.33
Urine creatinine (mg=dL) 2.6 13.4 12.6 37.0 0.29
BMI, body–mass index; Lp-PLA2, lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2; CRP, C-reactive protein; HDL, high-density lipoprotein; LDL,
low-density lipoprotein; BUN, blood urea nitrogen; AST, aspartate aminotransferase; ALT, alanine aminotransferase.
296 YAZAKI ET AL.
subjects who have type 2 diabetes and who use sulfonylurea
demonstrated that chromium picolinate
improves insulin sensitivity, glucose control, and attenu-
ates body weight and visceral fat compared with placebo.
Baseline insulin sensitivity was found to account for
nearly 40% of the variance in the clinical response to chro-
In contrast, in this study, the baseline FPG levels
in both the chromium and placebo groups were normal
(Table 1). Our results are consistent with a meta-analysis
ﬁnding no association between chromium and glucose or
insulin concentrations among nondiabetic subjects.
trial using a lower dose of chromium picolinate (200 mg) in
nondiabetic women demonstrated no effect on body weight,
composition, or iron status.
In 1995, a study conducted
using 400 mg of chromium picolinate had no effects in
reducing body fat percentage.
It is unknown whether
chromium supplementation modiﬁes energy intake or ex-
Other studies have shown modest weight loss with chro-
mium supplementation. A meta-analysis conducted on 10
randomized controlled trials (RCTs) showed that the ob-
served effect with chromium picolinate was a small reduc-
tion of 1.1–1.2 kg (0.08–0.2 kg =week) compared with placebo
in overweight and obese subjects.
An RCT in 42 overweight
women receiving 1000 mg of chromium picolinate demon-
strated 0.5 kg weight loss over 8 weeks, while subjects re-
ceiving placebo gained 0.5 kg during this same time period,
although the difference was not statistically signiﬁcant.
In a small randomized trial, Cefalu et al.
found an in-
crease in insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant individuals
when supplemented with 1000 mg of chromium picolinate.
These results, however, have not been replicated.
exercise-related weight loss is associated with increased in-
sulin sensitivity, it is plausible that chromium supplemen-
tation can aid in this process. Our trial, however, did not
assess insulin sensitivity. In a recent trial of 60 obese subjects,
Iqbal et al. found that 500 mg of chromium picolinate did not
improve insulin sensitivity. A statistically signiﬁcant increase
in acute insulin response to glucose was found, though no
effects were seen on other measures of glucose metabolism,
lipids, body weight, and inﬂammatory markers.
intensity aerobic exercise is known to increase insulin
; the combination with chromium may confer
synergistic beneﬁts. This may be the mechanism in Kaats’
ﬁnding of statistically signiﬁcant reductions in weight, body
fat, and fat mass in a randomized trial of 130 subjects re-
cruited from ﬁtness and athletic clubs. All subjects (chro-
mium and placebo arms) lost weight during the intervention,
though the subjects in the chromium groups demonstrated
greater weight loss and improvement in body composition
than those on placebo.
The nutrition education intervention incorporated after
12 weeks did not demonstrate a signiﬁcant effect on any
outcome measure. This may be due to the passive nature
of the intervention without rigorous follow-up and caloric
assessments. This approach was intentionally designed to
mimic real-world scenarios where patients interested in
weight loss would be likely to combine use of any supple-
ment with a lifestyle change. In general, various approaches
to ‘‘dieting’’ have been demonstrated to work in the short
term, while very few, if any, demonstrate efﬁcacy in the long
The nutrition program selected is healthful and bal-
anced, and provided a standardized approach for study
Our trial aimed to assess the effects of anthropometry on
chromium-mediated weight loss. We found no variation by
visceral fat distribution nor changes in BMI, and percent
body fat. Variable results in prior studies may have been due
to obesity characterized by differential fat distribution.
Obesity, in general, is associated with insulin resistance, al-
though insulin sensitivity varies signiﬁcantly in nonobese
persons due to body fat distribution.
Persons with more
peripheral fat distribution are more insulin sensitive than
those who have body fat primarily distributed centrally in
the chest and abdomen. Furthermore, abdominal fat tends to
be more lipolytic than subcutaneous fat and not as sensitive
to the counterlipolytic effect of insulin.
We hypothesized that chromium might be most support-
ive of weight loss when excess weight was centrally dis-
tributed, and thus most associated with insulin resistance.
We thus recorded baseline measures of central adiposity
using CT. No association was found, however, between
variation in central fat volume and response to chromium
supplementation. Other researchers have found intriguing
results with chromium on central adiposity. In 37 subjects
with type 2 diabetes, Martin et al. demonstrated that sup-
plementation of 1000 mg chromium picolinate added to sul-
fonylurea use signiﬁcantly attenuated body weight gain and
visceral fat accumulation compared with subjects receiving
Perhaps chromium supplementation
alone does not confer speciﬁc beneﬁts on obesity, though it
may potentiate the action of other agents that increase ab-
solute insulin levels or enhance insulin sensitivity. The
sample size of this pilot trial limited the opportunity for
subgroup analysis, and thus type II error is a possibility.
A limitation of this trial is a relatively small sample that
was largely homogeneous in demographics and socioeco-
nomic status. Furthermore, chromium viability was not as-
sessed; it may be possible that samples degraded in potency
over time, especially since urine chromium values were
not signiﬁcantly different between intervention and con-
trol subjects. We did not track intake of other sources of
chromium—multivitamins and fortiﬁed foods—which may
result in differential intakes among subjects.
In conclusion, chromium picolinate did not affect weight
loss in the apparently healthy overweight adults enrolled in
this trial. Variable efﬁcacy of chromium was not seen with
variation in baseline levels of abdominal adiposity. Our
ﬁndings as consistent with other recent studies examining the
relationship between chromium supplementation and weight
and reduce enthusiasm for the use of chromium
as a nutritional supplement for controlling weight. Beneﬁt
of chromium supplementation in subgroups of overweight
patients, such as those with demonstrable insulin resistance
and those on intense exercise regimens, remains a possibility
warranting further research.
Funding for and products used in this study were pro-
vided by Nutrition 21, Inc.
CHROMIUM PICOLINATE FOR WEIGHT LOSS 297
No competing ﬁnancial interests exist.
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Address correspondence to:
David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H.
Yale-Grifﬁn Prevention Research Center
130 Division Street, 2nd Floor
Derby, CT 06418
CHROMIUM PICOLINATE FOR WEIGHT LOSS 299
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