Herbalife launches fat blocker with significant research history

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

@Getty Images - Yagi Sudio
@Getty Images - Yagi Sudio

Related tags High fat diet Obesity Diabetes mellitus Dietary fiber Weight management

Herbalife has launched a new weight management product based on a fiber derived from prickly pear cactus. The ingredient has the backing of several placebo controlled human clinical trials.

The new launch was announced on Friday.  The product, called Fat Release, is based on a branded ingredient called Litramine, which has been designated as Litramine IQP-G-002AS in clinical trials.  It’s aimed at helping consumers blunt the effects of occasionally overindulging in high fat meals.

Significant research history

Litramine has been developed by InQpharm, a firm that specializes in developing functional ingredients from botanical sources.  The company has performed a number of clinical studies on the ingredient, some of which were done in conjunction with the Berlin-based scientific consulting firm Analyze & Realize GmbH.  

Litramine is a fiber ingredient derived Opuntia ficus-indica​, or the common prickly pear cactus, that includes additional soluble fiber from acacia gum and which is coprocessed with cyclodextrin.

A 2014 review of that research effort included data from four published clinical studies as well as from an unpublished pilot study, which kicked off the research effort in 2009.  In aggregate, those studies showed Litramine resulted in higher excretion of fat in the feces versus placebo.  In addition, it also showed a statistically significant increase in weight loss​, on the order of an average of 3.8 kg versus 1.4 kg.

In addition, a 2015 study, done over 24 weeks, repeated the statistically significant greater weight loss for the Litramine group (in that study the placebo group actually gained a slight amount of weight on average).  More importantly, the study showed that 92% of the Litramine group were able to keep the weight off​, versus only 25% of those in the placebo group who actually showed a weight loss of any kind.

Helping consumers blunt effects of overindulgence

Litramine is aimed at helping consumers ameliorate the impact the consumption of high fat food on their weight management goals, and is meant to help consumers make progress within the context of a weight management plan, not as a standalone weight loss product.  Herbalife cites recent consumer research released by OnePoll that shows the average person overindulges in unhealthy food three nights per week.  Rather than harangue consumers about improving their diets, the company said the new Fat Release product based on Litramine meets consumers where they are.

"Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging, and we are committed to providing consumers with convenient on the go options to keep them on track,"​ said Ibi Montesino, senior vice president, and managing director, Herbalife Nutrition, North America region. "This product helps consumers plan for those occasions when they have limited access to healthy foods."

The product is packaged in stick packs meant to be mixed in water, and can be consumed up to three times a day.  The recommended usage is to consume it within two hours of a high fat meal.  Litramine was studied at dosages of 3 grams per serving.  The  Herbalife launch information did not include access to a Supplement Facts panel for the new offering, but the front of the package labeling indicates that each stick pack of Fat Release totals 2.6 grams. A box of 30 stick packs retails for $58.45.

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