The company that helped fuel the green coffee extract for weight loss movement has been hit with a $3.5 million fine by the Federal Trade Commission for promoting its products with a “hopelessly flawed” and “botched” study, the FTC says.
Applied Food Sciences, based in Austin, Texas, commissioned a clinical trial on overweight adults in India in 2010 to test whether green coffee extract reduced body weight and fat. The study was later featured by Mehmet Oz on the Dr. Oz show, who purported “substantial weight and fat loss” from the extract product, calling it a “miracle pill to burn fat fast.”
Subsequently, dozens of nutritional supplement manufacturers have introduced green coffee extract pills to the market, despite little or no substantial research suggesting that chlorogenic acid (CGA), the main ingredient in the supplements, contributes to weight loss.
While the FTC says AFS had no part in getting the study featured on the Dr. Oz show, it took advantage of the publicity by issuing a press release that contends, among other unproven claims, that the product leads to weight loss “without diet or exercise.” As of yesterday, videos in which Oz praised the product in 2012 had been removed from public view on the Dr. Oz Show official website.
“Applied Food Sciences knew or should have known that this botched study didn’t prove anything,” says Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “In publicizing the results, it helped fuel the green coffee phenomenon.”
The FTC describes the study as “so hopelessly flawed that no reliable conclusions could be drawn from it,” saying that the study’s lead investigator repeatedly altered weights and other key measurements of the subjects, changed the length of the trial, and misstated which subjects were taking the placebo or GCA during the trial. When the lead investigator was unable to get the study published, AFS hired researchers Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham at the University of Scranton to rewrite it, the FTC says. Despite receiving conflicting data, Vinson, Burnham, and AFS never verified the authenticity of the information used.