For Dr. Oz’s Green Coffee Bean, Conflicts of Interest and Flawed Studies Abound

Health Tips from Yahoo! Reluctantly Healthy

When Starbucks adds Green Coffee Bean Extract for a “boost of natural energy” in Starbucks Refreshers™, I understand it. But when Dr. Oz calls Green Coffee Bean Extract (GCBE) the “Miracle Pill to Burn Fat,” I don’t get it so much. During the last week of April, (aka bathing suit week), Dr. Oz featured GCBE on his show. From the looks of my inbox, I see another push for Labor Day, second only to January 1st as the best day to start a diet.

Dr. Oz laid it on thick for Green Coffee Bean Extract. “Breaking news: The coffee bean, in its purest raw form, may hold the secret to weight loss. Women and men who took GCBE lost an astounding amount of fat and weight – 17 pounds in 22 weeks – by doing absolutely nothing extra in their day.” It’s “the magic you’ve been waiting for.”

The segment reported one very small study of 16 healthy adults living in India. The subjects took two different doses of GCBE and a placebo, all in capsule form over four-week intervals for 22 weeks, which is when they lost the 17 pounds. The study wasn’t tight: the subjects weren’t blinded, diet and exercise information was gathered by recall, and side-effects weren’t measured, and so any safety claims are false. The analysis didn’t hold up because, regardless of dosage or even placebo, the subjects all lost weight in the beginning before leveling off just like every other diet. The website Science-based Medicine analyzed the study nicely in Dr. Oz and Green Coffee Beans – More Weight Loss Pseudoscience.

I questioned Dr. Oz’s choice of Lindsey Duncan, PhD, a Naturopathic Doctor and Certified Nutritionist, to explain the research. Duncan is founder and chief executive officer of Genesis Today Inc. of Austin, Texas, a company that produces and sells nutritional supplement products, including Genesis Today’s Green Coffee Bean Extract. Isn’t that a conflict of interest? What’s more, Applied Food Sciences Inc., also of Austin, Texas, a manufacturer of GCBE extract for resale to the food and beverage industries, sponsored the study. Genesis Today is 14.5 miles away from Applied Food Sciences, according to Google Maps.

During that week in April when the episode aired, many major newspapers reported on the GCBE study. The public relations agency representing Applied Food Science did a nice job of shopping it around. Dr. Oz aired the story, and in fairness, it is probably hard to find new information for the show every day.  But at the end of the press release I saw this: “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not endorsed by or affiliated with Dr. Mehmet Oz, ZoCo Productions LLC.” It’s too bad people trust Dr. Oz.

By Dr. Oz’s standards, there seems to be a new magic pill every few months, considering his assumed endorsements of raspberry ketone and the “silver bullet pill” Qsymia (previously known as Qnexa) earlier this year.

See Dr. Oz and “Miracle Pill to Burn Fat, Part One and Part Two.

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