Apatrim Diet Pill Review: Willpower In A Bottle?
Apatrim is a “As Seen On T.V.” weight loss pill that is, according to the retailers, being hailed by scientists as “willpower in a bottle.”
The good news doesn’t end there, of course.
These same scientists (none of whom seem to feel strongly enough about this “miracle” to have their names revealed) are thrilled to have discovered this “century old” secret, and have clinically proven it to be safe and effective for weight loss!
Sounds pretty good, huh?
Well, I hate to always be raining on your parade, but there are good reasons to be skeptical about these claims. To explain, let’s discuss the ingredient profile, and deconstruct some of the claims.
It appears that Apatrim contains a single ingredient, Caralluma fimbriata (if it contains others, they are not revealed on the web site). Two capsules apparently supply 500mg of extract.
The retailers claim an “ace in the hole”… a “clinical study” validating the effectiveness of their product.
Here there is some good news.
There has been one positive published study performed on Caralluma (see Appetite. 2007 May;48(3):338-44. Epub 2006 Nov 13). Its conclusions, however, where hardly earth shattering…
“While there was a trend towards a greater decrease in body weight, body mass index, hip circumference, body fat and energy intake between assessment time points in the experimental group, these were not significantly different between experimental and placebo groups. Caralluma extract appears to suppress appetite, and reduce waist circumference when compared to placebo over a 2 month period.”
The amount of Caralluma in Apatrim – if taken twice a day – is consistent with the doses used in this study.
The retailers aren’t referencing this study however. They are referring to the study summarized on the bottom of this page by Ronald. M. Lawrence and Suneeta Choudhary (Caralluma Fimbriata in the Treatment of Obesity. 12th Annual World Congress of Anti-Aging Medicine, December 2004, Las Vegas, USA)
According to the congress program, neither author is listed as a speaker, so this “study” was probably a poster, which is not even a full presentation where one could expect questions from the audience in attendance.
Although Dr. Lawrence has a credible bio, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) is a somewhat controversial “organization.”
For instance, it has won the “Silver Fleece award” (awarded for the most ridiculous claims about antiaging medicine, reported on here by the American Association for the Advancement of Science mag/journal).
And, according to Wkipedia…
“The New York Times has recently published an article which questions A4M’s scientific foundations. Furthermore, researchers at the University of Illinois tagged A4M and its journal as disseminating misinformation and false claims (see http://www.newswise.com/p/articles/view/503478/).
According to Bruce Carnes of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, who commented on the The International Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine, a publication of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M):
“This alleged ‘journal’ is particularly misleading because it gives the false impression that it is a genuine scientific journal and that what is published in it is peer-reviewed. It is little more than an advertising vehicle for every conceivable anti-aging product.”
With that said, I asked Elissa, contributing author and our scientific and technical advisor to have a look at the study. In her own words…
This particular presentation falls considerably short of the “gold standard” – which is to say, a peer reviewed paper published by a reputable scientific society/professional organization.
So do each of the two docs containing details of the experiments.
If you take a look at the first, hospital-based study, you’ll see the results are rather underwhelming to say the least: 2.48 pounds lost (placebo) vs. 4.27 pounds (test). In other words, less than 2 pounds difference over a 2 month time period. The authors themselves claim these results represent a trend, but are not statistically significant between groups.
This is in stark contrast to the second study (which is the one presented at the conference), which Lawrence evidently conducted through his own practice, where the number of patients on the supplement outnumbered the placebo group by more than 2 to 1 – which is also odd (note the hospital-based study did a 50:50 split, which is pretty standard).
His test lasted only 4 weeks, and somehow got better numbers (an average of 3.47 pounds lost, according to the graph in the pdf). This makes me wonder if, perhaps, some “experimenter bias” is at work here.
When I reviewed Dr. Lawrence’s study myself, I was a bit astounded by the “study regimen.” It consisted of nothing more than advising participants to…
“…not to change anything in the way of diet and exercise from the “preceding 4 weeks.”
This seems weird to me. Consider: we don’t know whether participants were consuming low, moderate, or high calorie diets. If they were consuming high calorie diets, isn’t the Caralluma-induced weight loss even more impressive? And if they were consuming low calorie diets, doesn’t that call the results into question? After all, you can lose weight on a low-calorie diet with or without supplements.
The fact is, the credible studies I’ve seen in my research are significantly more structured. The most obvious element is the aforementioned calories—each participant is instructed to consume a certain number each day. That way, clinicians are gathering more consistent data and can make more accurate conclusions on the “effectiveness” of the ingredient. If you have 26 individuals, all with varying caloric intakes, it’s impossible to come to an accurate conclusion.
This bizarre directive essentially places each individual into their own unique, one-person study group. With essentially every single trial participant doing something different, what do these results really suggest?
We also don’t know whether or not exercise was already included as part of the daily routine of some of the participants. It may have been for some. These folks were trialing a weight loss product, which suggests to me they were overweight and actively seeking to lose weight. And that would make it likely that at least some had implemented some basic form of diet and exercise plan.
If you check the Apatrim sales page, you’ll see they proudly proclaim…
“They got these results without adding exercise or diets to their daily routine!”
They fail to mention that although participants did not add anything to their routines, they may already have been dieting and exercising.
The other issue—which I’ve addressed briefly already—is that neither of these two studies were performed on the Apatrim formula. Does Apatrim contain the same amount of Caralluma as demonstrated effective in either of these stories?
Again, who knows?
That makes Apatrim difficult to recommend, even with the appropriate caveat. I’m also very wary of “As Seen On TV” products.
Selling a product solely on television (or via radio or the Internet) makes it much easier for retailers to skirt accountability to the public for an inferior or “over-exaggerated” product. (I’ve written an article that covers the dangers of products marketed in such a manner. You can read that article here!).
To be fair, I have not yet received any negative feedback regarding Apatrim’s customer service policies.
Apatrim costs $29 per bottle, with discounts available for multi-bottle purchases. Caralluma—the ingredient in Apatrim—is no “home-run” winner. Current research indicates it is a supplement that that may well work, but not in any dramatic way. It probably falls into “give it a try and see” category… but not at this price.
Luckily, there are alternatives.
NOW brand’s Slimaluma Plus is available at BodyBuilding.com (our recommended online retailer) for less than $15. Slimaluma Plus contains 500 mg caralluma per two cap serving, plus it also contains 200 mg each of green tea and yerba mate extract. If you want to experiment with a caralluma supplement, this one is as good as any, and it’s cheap, cheap, cheap!