I find it hard to hold myself back with commenting on other people's social media posts when they seem too _____________ to be true. Fill in the blank yourself, anything can fit here (good, stupid, farfetched, unrealistic, sad, unbelievable, questionable).
Most of the time I refrain, and partly because I make the conclusion that my comment won't help anyone if I add it. If I feel that my comment can change someone's perspective, add a perspective that hasn't been voiced, or simply destroy a myth I know is untrue... my comments make their way out there at times. I wanted to write this post because sometimes, when I find it hard to hold myself back with commenting on other people's social media posts when they seem too good to be true, I do a little research, and find out I'm wrong. Throughout my undergrad at the Universtiy of Calgary, taking "Introductory Nutrition" and "Advanced Nutrition", and then diving into some intimate Nutrition classes in my Masters, I felt that our profs (with PhD's in this stuff) would give us the tools to call out the bullshit. Don't be mistaken, I'm not a nutritionist by trade, but I do think with my background in science, I would be able to pick out the bullshit. On Facebook today, as I do many days, I came across a post about a pill called the "Fat Fighter", which was to be taken with fatty or cheat meals, in order to "block some of the fat and carbs" from the meal, and claimed to supposebly allow the user to absorb less fat from their digestive track, making the meal "count less". Right away, I called bullshit, and then with a quick search of the ingredients in the pill, I hit ENTER and searched through PubMed (a research article database) for some answers.
I only found one paper when I searched for the main ingredient of these Fat Fighters, called NeOpuntia®, and the article started off on my side, my tainted side, supporting the view I upheld (also a side that contained some angst... because how could this be a THING?).
Bear with me through the science here, I'll summarize after. The important points are that the study was a randomized, placebo-controlled (one pill had the extract, the other group's pill did not), double-blind (nor the subject or the researcher know which pill is the placebo, to minimize bias), 6-wk study were 68 women, ages 20 to 55 y, with metabolic syndrome and a body mass index between 25 and 40. Fifty-nine subjects completed the study according to the study plan. The women took doses of 1.6g per meal (in the company I was investigating, the suggested dose was 1g after eating a "large" meal). For the 42 females above 45 years of age, there was a significant increase in HDL-C levels (good cholesterol) with NeOpuntia and a tendency toward decreased triglyceride levels (positive outcome). At the same time, there was a decrease in HDL-C levels with placebo (but, placebos should act as the control group, and not change). Overall, for the entire study population, similar but less pronounced tendencies were demonstrated. 42 females showed no change in blood lipids. At the study end, 39% of the NeOpuntia group, but only 8% of the placebo group, were no longer diagnosedwith metabolic syndrome.
So, what does this all mean? The results indicate an advantage of using NeOpuntiain dietary supplements because of improvement of blood lipid parameters associated with cardiovascular risks. But, that most of the effects took place in women over 45, all of which had metabolic syndrome (a combination of more than one metabolic disease like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc). This pill is being advertised all over social media platforms to young men and women, claiming that the pill "blocks fat in food" and with the one single credible research study I could find, its a far reach from the truth.
But, as the title of my blog post reads, the internet is either always right or sometimes wrong, and in this case my theory stood strong. If you're short for cash, under the age of 45 and sans metabolic syndrome, you might not be benefitting from this supplement. On the flip side, if money isn't an issue for you, you're over 45 with metabolic syndrome, and want to try to improve your blood lipid profile... this might be the one for you.
If you care to read the full article, the reference is:
E., L., C., T., & M., D. (2007). The effect of NeOpuntia® on blood lipid parameters - Risk factors for the metabolic syndrome (Syndrome X). Advances in Therapy, 24(5), 1115–1125. Retrieved from http://www.embase.com/search/results?subaction=viewrecord&from=export&id=L350284522\nhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02877717
Also found the product information/picture from: https://static.myitworks.com/productsheets/301/pis-fatfighter-us-004-r1-l.pdf