Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Garcinia Cambogia: This again?

I apparently don't watch enough TV or visit enough supplement shops (which is probably a good thing).  The other day I was driving home and saw an advertisement for this particular weight loss supplement, garcinia combogia, advertised for 25% off.  Since it was something recommended by Dr. Oz I was already suspicious, and an Internet search confirmed my suspicions.  Once I started to write a blog about it, however, I realized that 1) this "new/amazing" supplement has actually been promoted for more than 15 years and 2) other writer's and bloggers have beaten me to pointing out the lack of evidence. 

So with that, I give you this excellent article written by Julia Belluz and Stephen J. Hoffman over at Slate: Can you trust Dr. Oz?  (Hint, the answer is no).

Let me highlight here that the 1998 study that indicated that the garcinia extract was no better than a placebo for weight loss was a randomized-controlled trial, also known as the gold-standard for a clinical trial.    So if you go on Amazon.com or your other favorite supplement retailer you get to spend about $20-$30 a month for something that works no better than a placebo.  That should be a deterrent to any good skeptic.

I also want to put in a reminder to watch out for the logical fallacy known as the Appeal to Ancient Wisdom.  Just because something is billed as having been "used for hundreds of years" in "insert country that seems exotic to those who live in Western societies here" does not mean that it has any practical medical application today.

Take home message--if you use garcinia extract to lose weight you are spending money that you could put toward your healthy food budget.

Now excuse me, I will go stalk Dr. Oz's website for more blog material.  I might be awhile.


  1. FYI, one of the useful tools that can make it even easier to identify bogus claims and find other related information is a tool called "RbutR" (Root is regarding rebuttals).

    Tracking down a link to Oz's site regarding that compound pops up a notice that there is a rebuttal to the claim and links to the following page (which has largely the same information as the slate article you link to above):


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