I finally decided to do a post on a diet pill I’ve been hearing about on TV a lot. The company tells me every weekday during Jeopardy that I’m fat and therefore ugly and all I have to do to fix that is take — da da da da — Lipozene! Thank Zeus, I’m saved from my life of fat mediocrity!
Rather than take the commercial’s word for it like I always do because the TV wouldn’t lie, I decided to look Lipozene up on the old interwebs before pre-ordering my 100 boxes of the stuff.
First I want to quote the commercial, which can be viewed on their website, because it’s just too frigging hilarious.
Smarmy Narrator: Do you have too much body fat? It tends to accumulate on your stomach, hips, and thighs. Body fat is unattractive and extremely hard to get rid of.
Overly Cheerful Spokeswoman: Are you struggling to lose weight? Does it seem like no matter what you do you just can’t get rid of excess body fat?
Smarmy Narrator: Body fat builds over our midsection, on top of the muscle, underneath the skin. And over the years, it gets worse. Body fat increases from having kids, stress at work, lack of exercise, and poor diet.
Overly Cheerful Spokeswoman: The Obesity Research Institute has found the solution. It’s called Lipozene. Lipozene is clinically proven to help reduce your body fat and weight. And to raise awareness about this weight-loss breakthrough, the company is letting people try Lipozene risk free for 30 days. In a moment there will be a toll-free number on the screen that you can call to receive your risk free trial.
Smarmy Narrator: Lipozene is so powerful that it’s clinically proven to help you lose pure body fat. In fact, a major university double-blind study showed that not only did participants lose weight, but 78% of each pound that was lost was pure body fat.
Overly Cheerful Spokeswoman: What’s even more amazing is that people were not asked to change their daily lives. It’s so easy. Just take Lipozene. That’s it. If you’re ready to get rid of pounds of body fat, then call the number on your screen right now. Lipozene is worth the price because Lipozene is clinically proven to work.
[Here’s where Smarmy Narrator gives the details to call to get Lipozene and instructs us that if we “call within the next 10 minutes” we’ll get double the amount. Then he says you get a refund if you’re still a fatty after using Lipozene.]
That pretty much speaks for itself, but of course they wouldn’t have a commercial without the trusty interactive PowerPoint presentation with diagrams of fat people and important bullet points about how they can stop being an ugly waste of space.
Ok. I think we can agree that they made some pretty specific claims. Also, I’m a fatso and that means I’m unattractive. And the best they could do to support their claims was to vaguely refer to one study. “The study” cannot be found on the Lipozene website, so I’m not sure to which study they are referring. A search on PubMed for “Lipozene” produced no results. A search in Wikipedia brought me to this page about glucomannan (the most interesting bit was the part that said “The FDA has not approved any product containing glucomannan for the treatment of these medical conditions” — which included obesity). With my new PubMed search terms, I looked again.
A search for “glucomannan and obesity” found me 18 results. There was one glowing “clinical review” by Kiethley & Swanson (2005) in the journal “Alternative Therapies in Health and Science” — sure to be the bastion of robust clinical practice (to be fair they did say “Further investigation of safety, efficacy, and mechanisms of action is needed to determine whether GM can help to decrease the high prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States.”). Pittler & Ernst (2004) in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” provided a much more conservative clinical review of the same available evidence and stated “The evidence for most dietary supplements as aids in reducing body weight is not convincing. None of the reviewed dietary supplements can be recommended for over-the-counter use.” Many other studies and reviews in the search recommended caution and suggested that the studies supporting GM lacked independent replication of results. All of this taken together paints a poor picture for the efficacy and safety of Lipozene and other alleged weight loss drugs.
A Google search for “Obesity Research Institute” produced many hits of complaints and mention of something called Propolene, but no apparent home page which in this age is just plain suspicious. According to a ruling by the FTC, The Obesity Research Institute, LLC “are barred from making false claims about any dietary product in the future.” Hmmm, looks like they didn’t listen. Claims like “risk free” and “clinically proven to work” are not soft claims. Even if there is one study from some backyard journal supporting what they are saying, the vast majority of research and past litigation for the same type of product from the same company, suggests Lipozene is not to be trusted and their claims are not justified. You’d think they’d at least have the decency to change the Institute name. It just goes to show how little respect they have for potential consumers of their product.
Lipozene is apparently a crock — or at least potentially dangerous, since it is NOT REGULATED BY THE FDA. Their commercial makes us feel like a shitcow so that we will order their product. Basically, Lipozene is Propolene wrapped up in a new pretty package because the puny fine they had to pay for Propolene wasn’t enough to offset the piles of money they’d already ripped off of people. I guess I’ll not be putting in that 100-box order after all…
We’re not going to stop seeing this garbage because the system just isn’t equpped to deal with these companies. The best we can do is LOOK THINGS UP when things sound too good to be true. Yeah there were a few studies that showed that GM led to weight loss, but what about safety? What about replication of results? What about those clinical reviews published in reputable journals that caution the use of GM? What about caution being advised even in the quacky journal that thought GM was awesome? What about the company’s history of selling dangerous, untested drugs to the masses and getting sued for it and barred from making weight loss claims in the future?
People are already complaining about Lipozene. If you’re reading this and you’ve had a problem with Lipozene, you can contact your local Better Business Bureau or Consumer Watchdog to register a formal complaint. The Obesity Research Institute isn’t going to go away if people who were not satisfied with the product don’t bring it to the attention of the proper authorities.
It sucks, but a healthy diet and regular exercise is the best we can do. Companies like the one that makes Lipozene get richer by making crazy promises and then laughing themselves all the way to the bank with our money. They don’t care about us or our health, or they might have said something to that effect in the commercial rather than spending the entire minute criticizing every person with an ounce of fat on them.