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Green Coffee Bean Extract

Magic Bullet or Dud?

     The most popular weight loss Green Coffee Bean Extract

product that is being touted by Dr. Oz is the Green Coffee Bean extract which not only promises that it can magically melt your pounds away, but that it can do this without the need for diet or exercise.

Like most weight loss products, the hype seems too good to be true. For every person who wants to lose weight, it must be very tempting to be able to do it without changing your diet, without doing any exercise but just by swallowing a pill twice a day. And of course it is flying off the shelves in record numbers at health food stores all across North America…

What made this product more convincing than the rest was the fact that Dr. Mehmet Oz actually conducted his own experiment on the supplement.  Using 100 female volunteers, Oz said he found women who took the extract lost an average of two pounds in two weeks. Women who took a placebo lost an average of one pound during those two weeks. This may sound convincing but wait until you hear the details.

What’s In It?

Green coffee beans are simply beans that have not been roasted. They contain chlorogenic acid, which proponents say slows the release of glucose into the body after a meal, thereby promoting weight loss. Anything with fiber does exactly the same thing, for instance eating an apple. When the coffee beans are roasted, most of the chlorogenic acid is lost. The chlorogenic extract must contain at least 47% of the active ingredient (according to Dr. Oz) and then is put into capsules and sold to consumers. A 45 day supply will cost you about $36.

Weight Loss Claims

All you have to do is type in “green coffee bean extract’ into an internet search and you will be hit with thousands of companies trying to sell you their version of the product. They will make wild claims about weight loss and medical studies but if you carefully look at the literature there is only one study that barely backs up their claims. The study, published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity, was conducted on eight men and 8 women. They were each given a high dose and a low dose of green coffee bean extract, as well as a placebo, in three separate six-week long experiments. Participants were encouraged to consume a similar number of calories each day during the course of the experiment.

After 22 weeks the researchers found that, on average, participants lost more than 17 pounds. The lead author of the study was Dr. Joe Vinson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

The Catch

Although the study is widely cited as proof green coffee bean extract works, nutrition and obesity experts questioned the validity of the results. They found several problems with the study, notably that it involved very few people (16) and its overall design was very poor.

When conducting a double blind study, one half of the people take the product being studied while the other half take a placebo (sugar pill). Then half way through the study, the real supplements and the placebo pills are switched and at no time do any of the participants know which one they are taking. In order to have a positive result, the study must show that the green coffee bean extract was at least 30 per cent more effective than the placebo.

However, during the study the men and women taking the placebo lost just as much weight as those taking the coffee bean extract. It was concluded that everyone in the study was trying to lose weight and because they were all together, peer pressure kept them dieting and possibly exercising as they competed with each other in their weight loss program.

The researchers did not carefully monitor the patients or measure their caloric intake and yet they concluded that weight loss was entirely due to the green coffee bean extract and that no changes in diet or exercise were required for weight loss. I think these people could prove that the law of gravity does not exist and people can really fly if they want to. The study was reviewed by Dr.Yoni Freedhooff, medical director of Ottawa’s Bariatric Medical Institute, who writes Weight Matters, a popular blog on nutritional products. Basically he concluded the study was totally unbelievable and flawed and no conclusions could be drawn from it.

When you read to the end of the study under “footnotes”, the authors of the study state that they have “no conflicts of interest in this work.” This is actually not true. Although Dt.Vinson is listed as the lead author of the study, he did not do any of the research. The study was conducted in India where the people of the study can keep the results far enough away and publish only the good results. Dr.Vinson then examined the data and wrote the scientific paper.

Dr.Vinson does say that the green coffee bean extract was supplied by Applied Food Sciences Inc., a company based in Texas but what he does not say is that the same company paid him a fee to write the study.

He claims that there is no conflict of interest because he does not gain financially if the Texas Company makes money on the product. That is why he did not disclose any financial interest to the journal. But isn’t getting paid to write a study a conflict of interest on its own, especially if you did not do the study yourself?

It’s a terrible world out there in which most people are not doing things for the good of mankind but for their own financial gain. The good news is maybe I saved you a few dollars by not buying the product. The bad news is that if you really want to lose weight there is no magic bullet and diet and exercise are your only options.


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