21 February 2008

Product Review: Lipozene®

Occasionally I get asked questions about a new fat-burning or metabolic enhancement product that a client has seen advertised on television. Of course, everybody wants to know: Does it really work? A more instructive question would be: Is it worth the money?

Lipozene® is one of those products. Marketed as a weight loss supplement that is "clinically proven to reduce body fat," this product is a perfect example of how truth can be easily manipulated in order to fool the public.

The active ingredient in Lipozene® is glucomannan which is nothing more than a form of soluble fiber that comes from the plant known as Amorphophalus konjac, or simply Konjac.

A 1999 study performed in collaboration between St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto found that Type II diabetics fed biscuits enriched with glucomannan experienced a greater reduction in blood fructosamine, improved cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure that those fed biscuits without glucomannan. It is important to note that both groups were on a high fiber diet of about 40 grams a day. The study was published in the American Diabetes Association journal, Diabetes Care.

A 2001 study published in Medical Hypotheses by Mark F. McCarty, consultant to Pantox Laboratories in San Diego, reported that "administration of 4–5 g of GM (glucomannan) with meals, blended into fluid or mixed with food, can slow carbohydrate absorption and dampen the postprandial insulin response by up to 50%." This translates into better glycemic control which can result in lower body fat when combined with other factors. Pantox Laboratories is a licensed clinical reference laboratory that analyzes and interprets the biochemical defense system that prevents aging and degenerative diseases.

Other studies using a combination of glucomannan and chitosan, a polysaccharide produced from the shells of crustaceans, found similar effects.

A 30-capsule bottle of Lipozene® is sold for $29.95, and each capsule contains 1.5 grams of glucomannan. In other words, at the dosage cited in the study, a bottle of this product provides about a 3-day supply.

While any form of soluble fiber will help to reduce cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and reduce weight, glucomannan is special due to the fact that it has an extraordinarily high viscosity as compared to other forms of soluble fiber. A high viscosity confers the ability to easily form gels when mixed with fluids in the intestine.

Another high-viscosity soluble fiber is pectin, and is found in citrus fruits, peach, apples, currants, and plums. Pectins are also found in root crops such as carrots and beetroot, as well as in tubers, such as potatoes. A diet incorporating the recommended 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day provides more than enough soluble fiber to confer the health benefits cited in scientific studies.

Nevertheless, for those eager to get the added benefit of glucomannan, there are many other, more reasonable, sources of this product. One such company, Konjac Foods, offers a half-kilogram package of glucomannan powder for $19, as compared to the $30 charged for a 45-gram bottle of Lipozene®. That's an almost twenty-fold difference in price. Of course, Konjac Foods doesn't advertise on major television networks.

In June 2005, claims filed in a federal district court against Lipozene® manufacturer Obesity Research Institute, LLC by the Federal Trade Commission, were settled for $1.5 million. In a news release, the FTC states that "the defendants used a television infomercial, short TV spots, and Web sites to market FiberThin and Propolene, two fiber-based dietary supplements they claimed would cause rapid, substantial weight loss without any need to diet or exercise. . . [the supplements] purportedly contain glucomannan." The supplements were sold for $90 and $100, respectively, for a 60-day supply.

The Obesity Research Institute was also "barred from making false claims about any dietary product in the future." As a result, this latest incarnation of glucomannan supplement from the Institute is marketed as "clinically proven." While that may sound quite authoritative, simply stating that something is "clinically proven" to work does not give any additional information as to what dosage and frequency is appropriate, how effective it really is, or in whom it was shown to be effective in the first place.

In the case of this particular product, a closer look reveals that using it will result in more harm to your pocketbook than anything else.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this. It was clear, concise, to-the-point. It answered everything I wanted to know and was generally well written. I thought it was worth saying so.

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