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    Hydroxycitrate is not effective

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    Sunday, November 16, 2003 5:30 am Email this article
    Hydroxycitrate (HCA) is not effective for fat loss or weight loss according to study headed by Steven Heymsfield at St. Luke?s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York. In fact, patients who were given a placebo versus those who were given HCA lost more weight (9 pounds versus 7 pounds, respectively) and lost more body fat (2.2 percent versus 1.4 percent, respectively). However these differences were not statistically significant.

    The study lasted three months and involved 135 overweight patients (BMI 27-38, average BMI 32) aged 18- to 65-years-old. Subjects were given either 1,000 mg of Garcinia Cambogia extract containing 500 mg of HCA three times per day (3,000 mg of Garcinia Cambogia containing 1,500 mg daily) or a placebo thirty minutes before meals. All patients were provided with a high-fiber diet containing 1,200 calories per day consisting of 20 percent fat, 50 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent protein. Previous studies have claimed weight loss of up to 15 percent of body weight with HCA. (ORU, Aug 96, p. 14; July 97, p. 56) HCA is sold as a nutritional supplement intented to inhibit lipogenesis, that is the conversion of carbohydrates to fat.

    Sabinsa Corporation of Piscataway, New Jersey, one of the manufacturers of HCA, sent a letter to the nutritional industry dated November 24, 1998 criticizing this study. They said that HCA should not be given with a high-fiber diet because the fiber may inhibit absorption, and that it needs to be given with a simple carbohydrate diet to effectively inhibit lipogensis. Early HCA studies in mice used a diet containing 70 percent sugar. HCA may be of little use in humans for the following reasons.

    Obesity researcher J. P. Flatt from the University of Massachusetts was the first to recognize lipogenesis is negligible in adults who eat a normal mixed diet. Harper?s Biochemistry notes that lipogenesis is insignificant with a diet containing more than 10 percent fat. One exception could be an elevated intake of high-fructose corn syrup. (The article on high-fructose corn syrup was posponed until next month.)

    A second study from researchers at the University of Colorado concluded that HCA does not increase metabolism or the amount of fat that is burned, either at rest or during exercise (Kriketos et al, 1998). The study consisted of ten healthy overweight men who on average were 29-years-old and had a body mass index of 29. On four separate occasions subjects were given 3 grams of HCA per day or a placebo for three days plus HCA or placebo on the morning of the fourth day after which they were tested.


    Heymsfield SB; Allison DB; Vasselli JR; Pietrobelli A; Greenfield D; Nunez C. Garcinia cambogia (Hydroxycitric Acid) as a Potential Antiobesity Agent. JAMA, 11 Nov 1998, 280(18):1596-1600. Thank you to Dallas Clouatre for faxing me this article.

    Kriketos AD, Greene HL, Hill JO. role of (-)-hydroxycitric acid (HCA) on energy expenditure and respiratory quotient in adult males. International Journal of Obesity, Aug 1998, 22(8 Suppl 3):S161 (abstract P243).

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