In the wake of Dr. Mehmet Oz’ senate hearing I sat down and researched 10 of his intriguing weight loss claims.
What Dr. Oz claimed: “I’ve got the number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat.”
What it is: Raspberry ketone is the organic compound responsible for the aroma of red raspberries and used to deliver fruity smell in food and cosmetics.
What science says: The one study showing weight loss from raspberry ketone I’m aware of was done on mice. The effect hasn’t been reproduced in humans.
What Dr. Oz claimed: A “miracle flower to fight fat.”
What it is: A chemical compound produced by the Indian Coleus plant, in traditional medicine used to treat high blood pressure and heart disorders.
What science says: The study Dr. Oz cites as proof reported changes in body composition, but the participants’ body weight stayed the same.
What Dr. Oz claimed: “This amazing cutting-edge fiber could have a huge weight-loss impact.” (found on his website)
What it is: FBCx is a brand name for a dietary fiber properly called “alpha-cyclodextrin.” In industrial production it’s used as an emulsifier or to mask odors and flavors.
What science says: There are four studies claiming that FBCx aids weight loss (here, here, here, and here). However, on all four we find the names of two people benefiting from selling FBCx: Dr. Joseph Artiss and Dr. Catherine Jen.
Green Coffee Bean Extract
What Dr. Oz claimed: “One of the most important discoveries I believe we’ve made that will help you burn fat.”
What it is: Green coffee bean extract is made from unroasted coffee beans and supposed to contain chlorogenic acid, the beans’ possible weight loss ingredient.
What science says: The effect, if it exists at all, is small and the research done so far was poor.
What Dr. Oz claimed: A “metabolism game-changer.”
What it is: A syrup extracted from the roots of the South American plant bearing the same name. It can be used as a lower calorie alternative to sugar.
What science says: One study found Yacon syrup effective for weight loss. It was done in the region that would benefit from increased yacon syrup sales and so far hasn’t been replicated elsewhere.
What Dr. Oz claimed: “An exciting breakthrough in natural weight-loss.”
What it is: A small fruit grown in many Asian countries and used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes.
What science says: A review of available research found no effect of garcinia cambogia on weight loss. On the other hand there is a connection between garcinia cambogia and liver damage.
What Dr. Oz claimed: Pine nuts “help suppress hunger.”
What it is: The edible seeds of pine trees containing pinolenic acid. The latter is what’s supposed to reduce appetite.
What science says: Only one study showed the effect, but it was never published, peer-reviewed or its results duplicated by other researchers. I could only find mention of it on a food products marketing website.
What Dr. Oz claimed: A “miracle appetite suppressant.”
What it is: A spice coming from the Saffron plant, popular in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking.
What science says: To my knowledge there is no research showing any effect of saffron on appetite.
What Dr. Oz claimed: “Improve the look of your skin and lose weight all with one miracle berry.” (found on his website)
What it is: A shrub with small orange fruit at home in parts of Europe, Asia and North and South America. It’s used in drinks, jams, lotions and more.
What Dr. Oz claimed: They “ignite your fat-burning furnace.”
What it is: Beans, the legume.
What science says: Beans are a healthy food. They are high in fiber and protein and may help controlling blood sugar, but there is no research showing them to have an effect on weight loss.
Picture courtesy of David Berkowitz.