After a $20 million government grant, the company searched for a plant extract that would be bitter, to cause the body to release fullness hormones, but not full of calories. They settled on hop flowers, and have isolated a compound they call Amarasate
However, the only testing that has been completed was over a course of three days, on 19 men who had a BMI of 23.4 - meaning they were of a healthy weight, and not in need of weight loss. These men were given pills or placebo, and told to eat lunch until they felt full.
The men on the real pills averaged 200 calories less at lunch than the placebo ones. Additionally, increases of gut peptide hormones were measured. So far so good. This sounds like it may stop people eating as much as they would otherwise.
On the back of this, the company is now selling the product with phrases such as "Goodbye Craving. Hello You". Funnily, the subjective measure of the men's appetite didn't change for the men who had taken the pill, so the claim that it helps with craving seems unsupported.
More worrying, of course, is that this product is being sold at all based on such a small trial on people who aren't even the target market. The product costs $60 for 45 capsules, and is already on sale in NZ and due to go on sale in the US soon. I'm pretty sure a friend has even ordered some already - she told me yesterday she found a Facebook promo for new weight loss pills where you only have to pay postage, and the name begins with C. She's promised to let me have some to try, so it'll be interesting to see if I manage to eat less!
Professor Jim Mann said:
"I don't think any clinician like myself would be prepared to consider recommending it to their patients without proper long term clinical trials,"