There was a half-page ad in my local paper, thinly disguised as a “Special Report” by a Health and Fitness Editor, for a new fat-melting pill that “could put diet industry out of business by 2016.” I have seen a lot of ridiculous ads for weight loss products, but this one takes the cake. It’s arguably even worse than the one that proclaimed “we couldn’t say it in print if it wasn’t true” and then proceeded to say things in print that weren’t true.

It’s called Shred360. Here are some of the claims:

  • It shook up the fitness industry because it DOUBLES your fat-burning potential.
  • It allows anyone to LOSE INTENSE AMOUNTS OF FAT without grueling workouts or tasteless diet foods.
  • It breaks your fat cells apart and disintegrates them, even while you sleep.
  • Speeds your metabolism by 43%.
  • It vaporizes fat without effort.
  • Its proprietary blend of 16 potent ingredients is scientifically proven.
  • Burns stored fat through thermogenesis and lipolysis.
  • Increases energy and mental clarity almost immediately – guaranteed.
  • Fools your body into feeling full: the ultimate appetite suppressant.
  • Unconditionally guaranteed to make every surplus bit of your unwanted fat disappear effortlessly.
  • Analysts think it will put Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers out of business by 2018 (which doesn’t even make sense if it has already put the entire diet industry out of business by 2016).
  • You can eat like a normal person, skip the gym, and lose the fat you want while you sleep.
  • Produced under highly controlled environmental conditions in small batches, so supplies are very limited.
  • Free samples available for 100 customers – don’t wait to call.
A screenshot from the Shred360 product website. Lots of claims!

A screenshot from the Shred360 product website. Lots of claims!

They include a series of pictures that supposedly show fat cells disintegrating. Mechanical loads may be able to disintegrate fat cells, but there’s no way a diet supplement could do that. When people lose weight, it’s not because their fat cells disintegrate; the number of fat cells remains constant throughout life, even after drastic weight loss.

If ads like these sell products, it only means “there’s one born every minute.” It’s particularly galling, since a few years ago the FTC asked the media to help their underfunded and understaffed agency rein in false diet supplement advertising. They provided simple guidelines so the media could spot red flags, exercise their own judgment, and reject deceptive ads like this one. I’ve tried complaining to my local newspaper to no avail: they don’t want to be bothered, and the income from ads takes precedence over providing accurate information to readers.

Synergism not proven

They claim Shred360 works by a synergistic combination of ingredients. Adding ingredients together may or may not produce a synergistic effect, and this particular combination has never been tested to determine whether it does. They brag that their ingredients are supported by a “landmark scientific trial” in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. I think they must be referring to this one, which showed that green tea extract alone, in doses comparable to 3.5 cups of tea, increased fat oxidation during moderate-intensity exercise and improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in young men. But another study of green tea extract in obese women showed no difference in weight reduction between the tea and placebo groups after 12 weeks of treatment. And a 2014 systematic review concluded that it had no statistically significant effect on weight loss in overweight adults.

Oh, and by the way, it may cause liver failure.

Ingredients

So the green tea extract in Shred360 probably doesn’t do much of anything and might even be dangerous. What else is in the product?

    Nutrients:

  • Vitamin B6 (1500% DV)
  • Vitamin B12 (2500% DV)
  • Chromium (167% DV)
    Hyperfocus 410.03 mg comprised of:

  • Caffeine (120 mg)
  • Yerba mate extract (a South American tea containing caffeine)
  • N-acetyl-L-tyrosine (a non-essential amino acid)
  • DMAE
  • Huperzine A

They say it produces none of the side effects that people get from caffeine and ephedra, like jitteriness and overstimulation. So we can deduce that the amounts of each ingredient are not large enough to have any significant effect on metabolic rate. For comparison purposes, a cup of brewed coffee contains 95-200 mg of caffeine.

Does it work?

I don’t know, and they don’t know either, since the mixture of ingredients has never been tested. But I am far more skeptical than the vendors are. For some of the individual ingredients there is indeed preliminary evidence that they may have a small but probably not clinically significant effect on weight loss. I would be delighted to learn that Shred360 had been rigorously tested and shown to be an effective and safe way to lose weight. But I would be very surprised.

Does it disintegrate fat cells? No! (Who knows what those pictures are really of?)

Is it going to put the diet industry out of business? No way!

Conclusion

This is just another in a long line of money-making weight loss products that make extravagant claims based on the flimsiest preliminary evidence and trade on the perennial desire for a miracle that will take pounds off effortlessly. The extravagant hype in these ads is beyond anything I’ve ever seen: it ought to win some kind of award for the greatest silliness in advertising.

I’m wondering why Dr. Oz has not featured this new weight loss miracle on his show; he’s already featured some of the ingredients as miracles, and combining them ought to compound the miracle, right? Or are these claims too silly even for the credulous Dr. Oz?

 

Posted by Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.