And yet, I continue to be.
For example, when Oz called Garcinia cambogia “the newest fastest fat buster” I nearly fell out of my chair.
Because Garcinia is not new.
Not by a long shot.
And when I heard this..
‘Thanks to brand new scientific research, I can tell you about a revolutionary fat buster. It just might be the most exciting breakthrough in natural weight loss to date. Revolutionary new research says it could be the magic ingredient that lets you lose weight without diet and exercise. Could Garcina cambogia be the fat busting breakthrough you’ve been waiting for?”
I shook my head in disgust.
See, a lot of people hang off every word of Oz’s – they respect him, and they turn to him for answers. The guy has, after all, some pretty impressive medical credentials after all. He knows about science. He knows about clinical studies. He knows about methodological flaws and small sample sizes. He knows about the placebo effect. He knows about conflicts of interest and how they can impact study results. Yes, he knows ALL this stuff, but chooses to ignore it and instead, provide rosy, exaggerated “pictures” of the weight loss supplements he features on his show.
Truly, Dr. Oz has done more than drunk the Kool-Aid. He’s guzzled back the entire jug.
Well, that’s understandable – Oz is a doctor and a celebrity.
But let’s make one thing clear; just because Dr. Oz says it is “so”, doesn’t make it any more “so” than me saying it is not so makes it not so.
The measure of Garcinia cambogia’s “effectiveness” can only be gleaned from reviewing the available clinical studies.
So let’s take a look at those, and then you can make up your mind.
As you probably already know, Garcinia cambogia is a fruit native to India. The ingredient to which the “fat burning” effects are attributed is something called “hydroxycitric acid” (or HCA), which is extracted from the rind, and can inhibit ATP citrate lyase, a key enzyme in the synthesis of fatty acids.
Garcinia cambogia, hydroxycitric acid, HCA and Citrimax all refer to the same thing: hydroxycitric acid.
On the face of it then, Garcinia cambogia – via its hydroxycitric acid content – may have some use for weight loss.
But what do the studies say?
Well, one large scale study (performed on 135 people) published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 (so much for “newest”, huh?) concluded…
”Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.”
Perhaps more damning is the systematic review of the clinical data supporting Garcina cambogia’s effects on weight loss, which was published in 2011 in the Journal of Obesity. It concluded…
“The evidence from RCTs (randomized clinical trials) suggests that Garcinia extracts/HCA generate weight loss on the short term. However, the magnitude of this effect is small, is no longer statistically significant when only rigorous RCTs are considered, and its clinical relevance seems questionable. Future trials should be more rigorous, longer in duration, and better reported.”
In other words, some studies show Garcinia extracts work to some small extent, but for those that do, methodological flaws and small sample sizes call the reliability of the data into question.
Even if you want to interpret this data in the most generous way possible, there’s nothing here to justify Oz’s “newest fastest fat buster” comment.
However, we’re not finished with Garcinia yet.
A newer form of HCA, called Super Citrimax, was trialled at the Georgetown University Medical Center in 2004 (you may recall seeing a clip of the study’s lead author, Dr. Preuss, highlighted on the Oz show).
This study demonstrated a 5.4% decrease in bodyweight over the 60 day trial period.
For a 150-lbs woman, that equates to 7.8 pounds of weight loss in two months. For a 200-lbs man, 10.8 lbs.
The main issue with this study is that completely contradicts Oz’s statement, that Garcinia may be the “magic ingredient that lets you lose weight without diet and exercise”.
Because as you can see if you review the study abstract yourself, participants very clearly did both; “participated in a 30 min walking exercise program 5 days/week” and were restricted to a 2,000 calories per day diet.
The question then becomes…
“How much of that 5.4% loss of body weight is entirely attributable to the diet and exercise that accompanied the supplementation of Super Citrimax?”
Could you lose 8 pounds in 2 months simply by restricting your calories and exercising? I would say you could… without the aid of Garcinia. And even if it helps, well, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, there’s nothing here to justify any of the statements made by Oz. It’s no miracle.
The other thing Oz’s experts highlighted was Garcinia’s cheap cost.
It’s not THAT cheap.
For example, iHerb.com sells the 90 capsule Now brand Super Citrimax for just under $16. To duplicate the dose found helpful in the Georgetown clinical study (2800 mg of standardized extract divided into 3 doses) , you need to take 6 caps per day. So you need two bottles per month. That’s $30. Affordable maybe, but hardly cheap.
What’s the bottom line on Garcinia?
It’s far from new. Initially it was pushed by the supplement retailers as a carb blocker and it did sell well for while, until customers found the promised results didn’t materialize. Then it stopped selling. I’m sure it will sell well now, due to Oz’s recommendations, until once again, the promised results fail to materialize.
If in doubt, review the clinical study results. They are what tell the tale.
Possibly more than ever before, this is an EPIC fail by Dr. Oz.