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Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has shown beneficial properties on diabetes and obesity. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of oral ALA on body weight in subjects with overweight or obese.Single-centre, randomized, double-blind, crossover controlled study.A total of 166 subjects of Chinese Han ethnicity with a BMI ≥25 kg/m2 were screened and 103 subjects fulfilled the study requirements, in terms of informed consent and participation to the study.The subjects were randomized (1:1) to receive either ALA (1200 mg/day) or placebo treatment in a crossover design for 8 weeks. The primary end-point was the change in body weight. The secondary end-points were the changes in waist circumference, BMI, lipid profile, plasma leptin levels and the adverse events that occurred following ALA treatment.The changes in the body weight and waist circumference noted in the ALA group were significantly different compared to the placebo group as demonstrated by mixed model statistical analysis (both P < 0·05). No real weight reduction was seen in the ALA group, and no significant differences were noted as regards cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and adverse events between the two groups. The administration of ALA was well tolerated, and no serious adverse events were noted.Oral administration of ALA (1200 mg/day) for 8 weeks induced mild weight loss accompanied by a reduction in waist circumference.