Years of study at Plant and Food Research has led to the development of an appetite-suppressing pill which has just been launched in New Zealand and soon the United States.
The pills use a compound, registered as Amarasate, from hops, which the research team honed in on following tests of 900 extracts. The bitter-tasting compound “activates a process which is normally activated by food anyway,” said Plant and Food research scientist Dr John Ingram. “But it just does it in an extreme way and it triggers specific cells there to signal to the brain that you’re full.”
So far there has been only one clinical trial of the pill, which involved 19 men of “normal weight” who were each put through placebo phase plus the hop extract in two different capsule types, each of which ran for three days. During the hop extract phases of the trial, the men were reported to eat about 220 fewer calories when offered lunch and a snack where they were instructed to eat until they were comfortably full.
Dr Ingram presented that trial information at a conference in 2016 and has been searching for funding for longer-term trials since. In the meantime, the product is being marketed as Calocurb, available online only at a cost of $60 per 45 capsule bottle; it will go on the US market next month. It cannot be legally promoted for weight loss due to New Zealand laws that prohibit that claim being made about natural products.
Healthy Food Guide Nutritionist Claire Turnbull warned Seven Sharp the pill was no magic bullet. “It’s actually important to think about the quality of the food that you’re eating and also you need to remember to include exercise in the picture.”
University of Otago Professor Jim Mann, Director of Edgar Diabetes & Obesity Research, told stuff.co.nz that he would not recommend the product on the available evidence. “Any clinician who has been involved in treating patients who are obese would want to see long-term randomised controlled trials. You can claim it has metabolic effects but you can’t extrapolate that to weight management.”
The pill’s launch has been covered by local media, including:
North & South: Can this new weight loss pill stop people overeating?
Stuff.co.nz: NZ appetite suppressant pill to launch here and in United States
NZ Herald: Kiwi plant-based weight control supplement heads to US
TVNZ: New diet pill no magic bullet, nutritionist warns