Green Coffee Bean Extract may not be scientifically proven to help people lose weight, but it has helped Dr. Mehmet Oz, popularly known as Dr. Oz, lose credibility after a study claiming to offer scientific evidence of the ingredient's weight loss properties was retracted.
Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham, professors at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania who wrote the study, retracted it after the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against the manufacturer of the product, alleging that the information in the study was altered and could not be verified. The study was originally published in 2012 in the scientific journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy and claimed that people could use the product to lose weight without exercising or dieting.
“The sponsors of the study cannot assure the validity of the data so we, Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham, are retracting the paper,” said the two in a statement, published by Retraction Watch, a science watchdog.
Vinson and Burnham did not return calls for comment.
Dr. Oz brought up the study this June in Washington, D.C. at a Senate hearing in which he was alleged to have used deceptive advertising for supposed dieting products, including green coffee bean extract, by talking about them on The Doctor Oz Show, reported CBS News. The resulting hype over the extract allowed its manufacturer, Applied Food Sciences, to sell half a million bottles.
“My show is about hope. We’ve engaged millions in programs — including programs we did with the CDC — to get folks to realize there are different ways they can rethink their future," he said at the hearing in a quote published by CBS News.
Oz even conducted his own drug trial by giving 50 women the supplement and 50 others a placebo. Two weeks later, the show reported that women who used the supplement lost two times as much weight as the women who used the placebo.
The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint Sept. 8 against Applied Food Sciences, alleging that the company hired researchers from India in 2010 to conduct a clinical trial on the weight-loss properties of the supplements, according to an FTC spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous, since the FTC already released a press release on the case.
The researchers altered significant factors, including the length of the trial and the weight measurements of the participants, and were also unsure of whether or not participants used the product or placebos. The company, after failing to find a publisher, hired Vinson and Burnham to rewrite and publish the study.
“Applied Food Sciences knew or should have known that this botched study didn’t prove anything,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in the FTC press release published in September. “In publicizing the results, it helped fuel the green coffee phenomenon.”
Applied Food Sciences settled the matter, agreeing to pay $3.5 million.
Eboni Williams, a CBS News correspondent and legal analyst, told CBS News that Oz will not likely face any legal issues regarding the matter if he was unaware that the information was altered.
"A plaintiff could argue that he 'should' have known better, but it's a high burden to prove the requisite knowledge required to prevail in court," she told CBS News.