Just take the pills a few times a day and watch the pounds melt away. So goes the claim. Whoaaa. Time to reign in the galloping hyperboles.
The “active” ingredient is glucomannan is a form of dietary fiber that is extracted from the root of the konjac plant. Fiber, by definition, is any type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested and consequently cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine. It makes its way to the large intestine or colon, where bacteria may break it down into smaller components. Most of these, along with intact fiber are excreted. Glucomannan is made of glucose and mannose molecules joined together in long chains, but unlike digestible carbohydrates like starch, it is resistant to breakdown by our salivary or pancreatic enzymes. As a dose of indigestible glucomannan sits in the stomach or small bowel before passing on to the colon, it absorbs a great deal of water. This bulky mélange of water and fiber makes for a feeling of fullness and curbs the appetite. There have actually been a few short term studies indicating more efficient weight loss on a low calorie diet when it was combined with about 4 grams of glucomannan per day.
Marketers take such studies and inflate them with hype about easy weight loss. They promise weight loss without the need to diet or exercise for anyone. Of course this is a promise that cannot be fulfilled, which is the reason that an American company called Obesity Research Institute was taken to task by the Federal Trade Commission and was made to return 1.5 million dollars to customers who had been victimized by unsubstantiated claims. Two physicians who appeared as “expert endorsers” on infomercials produced by the company were also reprimanded. Seems that money can blur scientific vision.