First of all, there are no fat-burning miracles and any such statement is absolutely false. Recently, Dr. Mehmet Oz, a popular TV doctor, promoted raspberry ketone on his show as: “The #1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat.” This show was nothing more than a weight-loss commercial for a nonexistent weight-loss ingredient. Any doctor knows that fat-burning miracles do not exist and such a statement is reckless and harmful to public health. Sadly, his show has caused a buying frenzy for raspberry ketone causing millions of dollars to be squandered by desperate consumers seeking an imaginary “fat-burning miracle.” Even worse, these statements persist on his website and throughout the Internet using his video, name and likeness to sell this fantasy weight-loss miracle.
America’s epidemic of obesity finds us willing to try almost anything to lose weight. It is this desperate struggle with obesity that makes us so vulnerable to the latest miracle weight-loss pills promoted by a trusted TV medical doctor. In his show, Dr. Oz praises raspberry ketone and its “powerful” research, along with its ability to “shrink fat cells” and “naturally trick your body into thinking it’s thin” while he encourages us to try this “#1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat!” The absurdity of these miracle weight-loss claims is hidden behind the convincing content of the broadcast, along with the credentials and credibility of the medical doctor host.
Raspberry ketone has long been used as a chemical additive in perfumes and cosmetics. Its chemical name is 4(-4-Hydroxyphenyl)butan-2-one and also called Frambinone, Oxyphenylon, Rheosmin and Rasketone. It is used as an additive due to its sweet, fruity aroma. It is only found in trace amounts in raspberries (less than 0.1%), which likely makes the natural material from raspberries too costly for use in supplements. As a result, raspberry ketone rarely comes from raspberries and is instead artificially synthesized. Synthetic raspberry ketone is very cheap. It only costs a couple of dollars per pound, which means that despite the high selling price, even a large bottle contains just pennies of raspberry ketone. Clearly then, the real benefits from raspberry ketone are experienced by those who sell it and not those who use it. In any event, it is important to note that regardless of its cost or source (natural or synthetic), I cannot find any research that proves it provides weight-loss benefits in humans.
During the show, Dr. Oz and his guest emphasize the raspberry ketone research. Dr. Oz touts it as “the #1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat” and then states that “I’ve never understood how powerful it could be until I started doing the research for this.” Clearly, based upon his research, Dr. Oz has concluded that raspberry ketone is a “powerful” fat-burner…literally a fat-burning “miracle.” He asks his guest, “How did you find it and why do you think it’s so valuable?” She emphatically responds: “Research. Research. Research.” She then emphasizes its health, safety and remarkable efficacy: “I think it’s truly valuable because the ketones come from red raspberries. Very healthy. No side effects and they help your body burn fat. Not only that. They slice it up inside the cells, so it burns fats easier and we all want easier.” Shockingly, Dr. Oz agrees and validates these absurd claims by saying: “Yeah easier and it makes us smarter.”
So what is the research on raspberry ketone and weight-loss? Virtually nothing. You can do the research at the National Institutes of Health website (www.pubmed.gov) by typing “raspberry ketone” in the search box. You will find about 35 studies, but only two are remotely relevant to weight-loss. I could not find a single human weight-loss study. I don’t recall Dr. Oz mentioning there was no human weight-loss research for this miracle fat-burner. Of the two studies I found, one was a mouse study and the other looked at fat cells in a dish. The first study was not blinded (not controlled for bias) and it examined weight-gain in a few male mice fed a high fat diet plus high dose raspberry ketone. It also analyzed some rat liver cells exposed to raspberry ketone. The second study was also not blinded (not controlled for bias) and did not involve humans or any other animal, but instead, just looked at fat cells exposed to raspberry ketone in a petri dish. Neither study specifically showed weight-loss. I also do not recall Dr. Oz mentioning that the level of raspberry ketone given these mice was quite high (0.5% to 2% of food intake). This is equivalent to a human dose of thousands of mgs daily – far higher than the 100 - 200 mgs they recommend in the show. Plus, despite the natural sound of “raspberry” ketone, it is generally a synthetic chemical additive that to my knowledge has not been tested for safety at these levels and/or for weight-loss in humans.
Dr. Oz also claims that raspberry ketone “naturally tricks your body into acting like it’s thin.” Now that is truly a miracle! It’s as good as the prior claim that “it slices up the fat in your cells.” That sounds like fat-reduction surgery in a bottle! Dr. Oz then performs a compelling demonstration using protective goggles, red balloons and liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is colder than minus 300 degrees! According to Dr. Oz: “When you put the red balloons in the liquid nitrogen, the shrinking balloons are like fat cells and the liquid nitrogen is like raspberry ketone shrinking those fat cells.” According to Dr. Oz, “It excites the fat cells into giving up their fat.” This compelling demonstration gives the clear and persuasive impression that raspberry ketone causes your body to lose its fat and shrink its fat cells and if you remove the raspberry ketone, then your fat cells will expand. If that demo is true, then clearly, raspberry ketone is a weight-loss miracle. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, I could not find any scientific research that confirms or proves his miraculous claims or demonstration.
The show then discusses the impracticality of eating raspberries to consume raspberry ketone, but neglects to mention that as a result, these “natural” supplements are likely synthetic and/or made without raspberries. The guest also mentions some amazing weight-loss results and tells us we can expect our results in just five days, but still, to this point, there have been no disclaimers. We must wait until the end of the segment to hear the briefest of mentions of diet and exercise followed by Dr. Oz saying that “you should use this to help get you over the hump…not as a miracle pill.” That lone phrase does not diminish the negative impact of the absurd claims that preceded it. One need only look to the buying frenzy caused by this show to assess its adverse consequences.
Many people have felt that my failure to offer a raspberry ketone product meant that I had fallen behind on the research. That is not true. We could have jumped on the bandwagon and sold enormous amounts of this fantasy weight-loss pill, but I will not make a product where there is no human science or detailed safety data. Raspberry ketone is not a weight-loss miracle. In fact, I find no evidence that it is a weight-loss product at all. I have made vitamins for 30+ years and you’d think I’d be thrilled that a popular TV doctor so forcefully promotes supplements on his show, but given the nature of his shows, nothing could be further from the truth.
It is important to note that despite Dr. Oz’s miracle claims, there are no weight-loss shortcuts. To lose weight, we must change the quality, quantity and nature of the food we eat, while also attending to physical activity. It is never easy. A supplement can offer some nutritional support for these efforts, but ultimately, the miracle resides in our ability to make significant life changes. Never in a supplement. There are no weight-loss miracles.
In closing, this article is not about Dr. Oz. It was only written in response to countless inquiries about raspberry ketone. It was time for me to respond to questions about why I do not make a raspberry ketone product and why I would never recommend that anyone consume it. In fact, I would strongly caution against its use.
Best of health.