Monday, April 15, 2013

Shame on You, Dr. Oz!

Previously posted on!

Once again I must take issue with you.
But I digress.

Has anyone ever heard of Garcinia cambogia?  It’s Oz’s newest darling. He was gushing over this stuff, calling it the “holy grail of weight loss!” 
Well, of course I was excited to drink the Koolaid too, but first I hungrily googled the heck out of it… which I wondered if Dr. Oz had done.
If so, he might have mentioned the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a twelve-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. “Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.”

Oops!  Faux pas!!!

In fact, this study was actually criticized for using a high-fiber diet, which is thought to impair its absorption.  Criticized?  A high fiber diet is basically fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Too bad eating healthfully is contra-indicated for this panacea.

The NYU Medical Center newsletter succinctly reviewed an eight week study of 60 overweight individuals finding some weight loss.  Another trial found no effect on appetite.  One more study tested to see if it could cause weight loss by altering metabolism, but no effects on metabolism were found.

Taken together, I’d say this is all very underwhelming.  Furthermore, I would toss the lot of them down the drain, because none have any long term follow-up.  Everyone knows that most people gain back lost weight, regardless of how it’s lost!  How dare he sing such glaring praises, before any credible evidence is in!

I could see why Dr. Oz might be giddy about it, before results are conclusive.  This natural extract supposedly boosts serotonin, which helps with mood, and might conceivably reduce emotional eating.  Furthermore, it supposedly inhibits an enzyme from turning sugar into fat, and instead encourages the liver to turn it into energy and lean muscle mass, instead of fat.

So what happens after people go off this?  Don’t know; there isn’t any research.  But there is a body of work to suggest that the body may overcompensate, such as losing weight on amphetamines, and then rebounding when going off.

I believe the two part system, of trying to lose weight and then trying to maintain that loss, has failed most people, regardless of how weight was lost.  We need one way of living healthfully forever. 

A healthy lifestyle includes a variety of natural foods, listening to hunger and satiety, coping effectively, and moving your body.  Genetics account for the rest, including actual weight.  The scale will reflect that ideal combination of heredity and lifestyle; nature and nurture.  Some people will be heavier, and some will be thinner, which is OK.  Diversity is natural, and desirable.

If someone was restricting food before moving towards a healthy lifestyle, they will gain weight.  If they were overeating and not moving their body, their weight will naturally move towards a healthier point in their set point range.  Weight fluctuation is a byproduct of living a healthy lifestyle, and not a valid goal or indicator in itself.

Let’s finally get off the scale, and focus more on health.