Garcinia cambogia is a fruit grown across India and Southeast Asia and it is used there as a food and its rinds are used in some traditional recipes of south India.
It used to be an obscure hard-to-find ingredient, but recently the Internet has exploded with websites selling weight loss products based on an extract of the fruit and it even got some decidedly hucksterish treatment from Dr. Oz, a TV personality made famous by Oprah Winfrey.
The fruit is known in India as gambooge. It is apparently also an ingredient in some weight loss products as hydroxycitric acid. Dr. Oz promoted it and continues to assert that garcinia cambogia is an effective aid to weight loss. The claims for weight loss are nothing short of outlandish and there is real science that suggests the whole thing is a hoax.
Studies that claim to have found weight loss were carried out on animals. Studies involving humans are for the most part badly designed.
A few quality studies have been carried out over the years, starting in 1998 with a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 135 adults over 12 weeks published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. They found no evidence that hydroxycitric acid, the active ingredient in weight loss products made from garcinia cambogia, produced significant weight loss.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004 published a systematic review of meta-analyses and clinical trials on dietary supplements for weight loss by complementary medicine researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth. None of the over-the-counter weight loss aids worked, including garcinia cambogia.
Late in 2010 the peer-reviewed Journal of Obesity published a meta-analysis of studies testing the garcinia as a weight loss aid. Of the 23 trials they identified, 12 were methodologically sound enough to include in their analysis.
The analysis revealed that some statistically significant weight loss occurred, but “the magnitude of the effect is small and the clinical relevance is uncertain.” They also found that gastrointestinal adverse events were twice as likely in the hydroxycitric acid group as in the placebo group.
When you are considering the potential benefits of products look for meta-analysis studies that take in all the sound research available. One-off studies that get a significant result are not evidence of anything. Only when an effect is repeated in many studies by many scientists should you believe.
The fact about garcinia cambogia, hydroxycitric acid
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