Raspberry ketone: Be wary of this diet trend

If you watch TV, read magazines, listen to the radio, or even glance at the Internet, you’re going to be bombarded by ads and other promotional listings for raspberry ketone, the new “miracle fat-burner in a bottle” ingredient that is promoted to melt away flab while you change absolutely nothing else in our life.

There’s just one little problem: Raspberry ketone shows absolutely no efficacy for weight loss, and there isn’t even one tiny little study demonstrating that anybody ever lost weight taking raspberry ketone.

A natural antioxidant compound found in raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, peaches, grapes, apples and other plants, raspberry ketone has become the rage for dieters despite vapor-thin science conducted in test tubes using rodents. Also known as rheosmin, raspberry ketone has been used as a flavoring agent for almost 90 years. In the cosmetic sector it is an expensive fragrance

Most of the diet buzz surrounding raspberry ketone centers around one mouse study conducted in Japan, and a rat study conducted in Korea. In the Japanese mouse study, mice given a high fat diet and raspberry ketone did not become obese. The study results were reported in February 2005 in the journal Life Sciences. The Korean rat study was reported in the journal Planta Medica in April 2010. In male rats, administration of high doses of raspberry ketone prevented an increase in body weight when the rats were fed a high fat diet.

To start, mice and rats are not human beings. While rodents are often used as precursors to human studies, we only share approximately 85 percent of the same DNA as mice – but we also do not share 15 percent. The mice and rats in the two studies lived in cages, not in the real world. And the rodents were fed controlled diets. They had no access to fast foods, pizza, ice cream or fat-producing snacks. They could not get up in the middle of the night to raid the refrigerator. In other words, there is no valid connection of any sort between these two rodent studies and your likelihood of losing weight.

According to proponents, raspberry ketone supposedly helps to enhance activity of the human hormone adiponectin, which plays a role in regulating blood glucose and body weight. Adiponectin works in the body to modify blood glucose and insulin. So it sounds as though raspberry ketone would be a weight loss aid, right? However, to date there is not even one human study demonstrating any weight loss at all as a result of consuming raspberry ketone.

Marketers of raspberry ketone rely on the rapid repetition of pseudo-science to create the impression that using this agent for weight loss is valid. Since many people do not understand that much about human biochemistry, the pseudo-science that is spouted for this product can sound impressive – but proceed with caution. People may buy a couple of bottles of raspberry ketone, take the product, fail to lose weight, and move on to the next illegitimate diet craze.

As obesity rates soar in the U.S. and more people become desperate for help to lose weight, we will continue to see an endless number of diet crazes, most based on agents that do not actually work or perform so marginally that no significant weight reduction can be achieved. The science of weight loss is very well established. Reduce calories, eat “cleaner” types of unprocessed foods, exercise regularly to burn calories, and you can ultimately lose weight steadily. Fail to engage in these fundamentals, and nothing happens. The raspberry ketone craze preys upon people’s trust, grossly under-delivering in return.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at MedicineHunter.com.