Another weight-loss "miracle" debunked

Touted on The Dr. Oz Show, green coffee extract once seemed like a speedy, effortless way to lose weight.

Or not. The Federal Trade Commission has dismissed these fat-burning claims as "baseless" and said research purporting to prove green coffee extract's benefits is flawed. In a settlement with the agency announced on Monday, a company that promoted the product to retailers, Applied Food Sciences, agreed to pay $3.5 million and must come up with scientific proof if it makes any future claims regarding the supplement's supposed weight-loss properties.

The FTC said a 2010 study Applied Food Sciences had sponsored to demonstrate green coffee extract's ability to help people lose weight was badly flawed. A subsequent effort by other researchers also failed to validate the claims made for the product.

"Applied Food Sciences knew or should have known that this botched study didn't prove anything," Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "In publicizing the results, it helped fuel the green coffee phenomenon."

Dr. Oz, who helped give the extract some juice by touting it on his show, took a big hit this summer when he testified before Congress about several unproven potions he promoted. Applied Food Sciences had said the green coffee extract would lead to "substantial weight and fat loss." That was the same claim repeated on the Dr. Oz Show.

Although a seemingly endless string of weight-loss "miracles" have been debunked, consumers continue to search for one that that really works. The FTC reminds consumers to be skeptical of claims made for weight lose products, particularly those with the following catch-phrases:

  • Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!
  • Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!
  • Just take a pill!
  • Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!
  • Everybody will lose weight!
  • Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!
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    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.