In the new year, beware of the weight-loss snake oil salesmen

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently about her struggles with weight. She knows my story very well, and I have gone out of my way to encourage her to try a path similar to mine (work with a nutritionist, give yourself lots of time, focus on eating real foods in balance, etc.). She resists this path because she is on a quest that many of us are familiar with–the search for the quick fix to weight loss. She was telling me about how much weight she had gained, and that the Green Coffee Bean extract that she bought after seeing an episode of Dr. Oz hadn’t worked.

Her story made me so sad, and then mad. People make billions of dollars a year peddling this type of modern day snake oil to desperate people who have tried everything to lose weight. And in the first weeks of the new year, the advertising accelerates trying to capitalize on the guilt we feel after holiday indulgences. I used to be one of these people, chasing every fad diet and weight loss pill that promised quick and easy weight loss. A cruel promise because it offers hope but never delivers results.

I want you to be well informed about these products and their promises. So, I invited Brenna Thompson, registered and licensed dietitian with Nutritional Weight and Wellness and nutrition blogger (Eating Simple),  to give you some researched information on the topic.

Brenna Thompson, LD, RD comments on Dr. Oz and his weight loss supplement peddling

Dr. Oz is about as bad as a politician when it comes to health and wellness. One day he tells us a healthy diet is low in fat, the next day he invites Dr. William Davis on to discuss wheat and gluten, and then the next day he has a nutritionist touting the newest weight loss miracle pill. So which is it Dr. OZ, what is the ultimate secret to weight loss?  At this point I’m not sure even he knows.

Recently he spot-lighted the magical benefits of green coffee bean extract (GCBE). Supposedly, taking this supplement will melt away the pounds without having to change one’s diet or increasing exercise. Sounds too good to be true to me. However, unlike the famous

Dr. Oz promotes Rasberry Ketones as a quick fix weight loss solution

Dr. Oz promotes Rasberry Ketones as a quick fix weight loss solution

raspberry ketone show, there are a few studies, that have shown supplementing with GCBE may actually help people lose weight. Don’t get too excited just yet. The most recent study is very small (16 test subjects), who took a placebo, 700mg, 1050mg, for 6 weeks with 2 weeks between doses. Results showed an average weight loss of 6-10 pounds during the highest dose period. Unfortunately, there is no information on how long these people kept the weight off.

During the show, Dr. Oz went on and highlighted two audience members who took GCBE for 1 week. Both lost 2-5 pounds and stated that they had fewer cravings and more energy. But can we really trust them?  They’re on Dr. Oz!  Of course they’re going to say they felt great taking the supplement. In the words of Dr. House, “Everyone lies.”  The Dr. Oz Show Medical Unit went on and conducted its own larger study using 100 overweight women and found that after taking 400mg of GCBE for two weeks the GCBE group lost 2 pounds and the placebo group lost 1 pound. Both groups were told not to change their diets. So then how did the placebo group still manage to lose one pound?  Obviously this is not a very scientific study, and its results should not be trusted.

Currently no large, long-term studies have been performed on GCBE, so we don’t know how long a person can take it and possibly lose

Dr. Oz promises that Green Coffee Bean Extract will melt off pounds

Dr. Oz promises that Green Coffee Bean Extract will melt off pounds

weight. We also don’t know if there are any negative side effects from long term use. As usual, it doesn’t address the reason a person gained excess weight in the first place–poor diet habits. Sure people might lose weight, but they are not necessarily healthier. Body weight is not the problem, it is a symptom. Inevitably, once someone stops taking the supplement they will probably gain the weight right back.

For people willing to tune out Dr. Oz, long-term sustained weight-loss can be theirs. But it takes time and effort, and there are no magic pills. This year make a commitment to yourself. This year you are going to eat real foods. You are going to eat balanced meals and snacks and not starve yourself. This year you will stop believing in magic pills and quick fixes. This year you will begin believing in your own power to make good choices and to nourish your body. 

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6 Comments on “In the new year, beware of the weight-loss snake oil salesmen”

  1. Maureen says:

    Hi Nell,
    I’m catching up on your blog and want to say thank you for taking the time to write down such important information. I love the thoughtful ideas you have cultivated through your huge weight loss success on N for Weight Loss. I’m 55 and cannot lose weight. I gained weight before/after surgery last year and thought WW would help me but I am so hungry all the time. I was a lifetime member for years but I don’t think I can do it anymore. I’m trying the balanced way of eating and it is so satisfying. I just need to keep reminding myself that it doesn’t happen quickly. That is so hard to get comfortable with…thanks again.

  2. mary says:

    Hi, indeed I also love your statement: “Body weight is not the problem, it is a symptom.” We must work at the cause and not act on the effect, otherwise we are never going to get it done… A healthy lifestyle, a nutritional balanced diet along with an educated understanding about what the foods that we are eating are doing to our bodies is the right answer about living a long & healthy life.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Jennie says:

    Nell, I love your blog!!! Been reading it forever and wanting to comment. Anyway – this statement is BRILLIANT; “Body weight is not the problem, it is a symptom.” I keep reminding myself of this – it is not about losing the weight – it’s about eating the foods that make me healthy. Weight loss is a great byproduct if I can nail down the eating part, but I’m primarily focused on getting healthy. That’s a great tactic to help me resist the latest fad in weight loss, but it’s still so hard to motivate myself to avoid sugar and high carb foods.

  4. coripaulet says:

    Well said!


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