Professors retract weight loss study

Breanna Forgione
Staff Writer

Two University professors, Joe Vinson, Ph.D., and Bryan Burnham, Ph.D., have retracted a study that concluded green coffee bean extract promotes weight loss.

Applied Food Sciences Inc., a company in Texas, sells a green coffee ingredient that is used in dietary supplements and foods, and the company reached a settlement last month with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that totaled $3.5 million. This settlement followed the decision of the two professors.

The FTC which sponsored the study, charged the Applied Food Sciences Inc. for claiming that the extract caused consumers to lose about 17.7 pounds in nearly 22 weeks.

After the study was discussed on the Dr. Oz Show, sales increased for Applied Food Sciences Inc. and many other companies that offer the green coffee extract to consumers throughout the nation.

As stated in a recent Times Tribune article by Terrie Morgan-Besecker Vinson and Burnham were not directly responsible for conducting the clinical trials involved in the study, which were completed by researchers in India. The lead researcher of the study reportedly altered crucial measurements of the extract, supporting the fact that the study is, in fact, flawed.

The two professors were hired by the Federal Trade Commission to rewrite the study, which the lead researcher failed to accomplish. Although they proceeded to publish the study in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Target and Therapy, Vinson and Burnham did not verify that the information used in the study was correct. Applied Food Sciences Inc. also failed to check the authenticity of the data.

Despite finding that the study is flawed and the data conflicting, Vinson has reported that he still believes in the study’s conclusions: green coffee bean extract does indeed support weight loss. After looking at the start and end of the study, the professor claims to have found signs of weight loss.

Overall, the public’s negative feedback on the entire issue encouraged the two professors to retract the study. It was also in the best interests of the two companies involved to step back from the findings, which included conflicting data and mishandled information.

Burnham claims that “while [he] is upset with many issues related to the study and with how the media has obfuscated details of the study, its retraction, and the FTC statement; [he] thinks the retraction is an example of the self-correcting nature of science.”
He hopes that is its legacy.

Nov. 6, 2014

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