As I've said previously, I find Facebook good for keeping up with friends & family, & profoundly irritating in its practice of 'targeting' ads to the user. Mind you, that offers endless opportunities for blogging (when one can find the time). And today I shall make use of that opportunity, for today FB offers me a link to "New Zealand's #1 way to lose weight" - and no, it's not a combination of exercise & eating sensibly!
First up, although the purported writer claims to be a New Zealander looking at use of a particular 'miracle' combination in NZ & documenting her own results, I couldn't help but notice that a) 'New Zealand' is mentioned but a single time in the blurb; b) she looks nothing like any of the women in her supposed 'before & after' photos (nor does she share a name with any of them - such sloppy editing, lol); & c) none of the women are from NZ.
Anyway, what's she raving about? There seems to be a new 'miracle weight loss/elixir of health' offered every week (there've been ads pushing reservatrol in the papers recently, for example). This particular wonder is the fruit of Garcina cambogia (aka Gambooge), native to Indonesia but grown through South-east Asia and parts of India & Africa, where it's widely used in cooking. However, it's also been claimed to have significant health benefits: the page FB promotes says
It is known to contain the highest antioxidant concentration [not according to this study] of any known food, and is reported by many to have unprecented weight loss and health benefits. By combining Garcinia Cambogia [sic] supplements with a natural colon cleanse..., many people claim that their bodies have literally become "fat burning machines".
Ah, the wonders of pseudoscience - oxidation is required to 'burn' fat, so promoting an antioxidant to help lose fat sounds somewhat contradictory :) And colon 'cleanses' - money down the loo.
As for that claimed weight loss (the promotional web page claims 13 kgs!), well, the value of G.cambogia in achieving this has been put under the microscope. This approach is rather more reliable than relying on testimonials, even celebrity endorsements: like green coffee beans, gambooge has been promoted on Dr Oz's TV show as a "revolutionary" new fat buster.
Yet it isn't even new - its use has been studied for over 15 years. A study examining its potential as an anti-obesity agent, published back in 1998, concluded that
Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.
And this meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials - published in 2011 - found that Garcinia extract (hydroxycitric acid) might cause short-term weight loss. However, they noted that in one trial those using the extract were more likely to suffer gastrointestinal upsets than people on a placebo, and went on to conclude that
The magnitude of the effect is small, and the clinical relevance is uncertain. Future trials should be more rigorous and better reported [my emphasis].
I'll stick to the exercise/sensible eating combo - it'll probably save me money too :)
S.B.Heymsfield, D.B.Allison, J.R. Vasselli, A.Pietrobelli, D.Greenfield & C.Nunez (1998) Garcinia cambogia (Hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomised controlled trial. JAMA 280 (18): 1596-1600. doi: 10.1001/jama.280.18.1596
I.Onakpoya, S.K.Hung, R.Perry, B.Wider & E.Ernst (2011) The use of Garcinia extract (hydroxycitric acid) as a weight-loss supplement: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials. Journal of Obesity 2011. doi: 10.1155/2011/509038