SCAM ALERT: Beware GDF15 Diet Scams

We rarely report upon a diet scam that doesn’t exist….yet.   But we are confident that you’ll be seeing GDF15 scams in the near future.   Internet scammers have made a science out of taking preliminary scientific theories and turning them into FACT.   Like a certain current president, these scammers will take a nugget of truth and distort it into an alternative “fact” that forms the basis of one of their bogus diet schemes.   In this case,  a team of researchers with pharmaceutical company, Amgen,  reported that an engineered version of a protein naturally found in the body caused test mice, rats and  monkeys to lose weight. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers explain how they genetically altered a GDF15 protein to induce weight loss in lab animals.

Specifically, the researchers focused on the GDF15 —it is produced naturally by the  and has been found to play a role in metabolic processing. They  noted prior research that showed that lean animals and people tend to have more of it in their bodies.  They aren’t alone; other researchers have taken also note of the power of GDF15, and several studies have shown that injecting it into test animals led to weight loss. But until now, scientists haven’t been able to overcome the body’s tendency to clear the extra protein much too quickly for it to be of much use. To overcome that problem, the team at Amgen added a small part of an antibody to the protein, causing it to remain in the body much longer—long enough to induce weight loss when injected once a week. It also resulted in lowered insulin and cholesterol levels in the blood.

The researchers acknowledge that they do not know why raising levels of GDF15 in the body led to weight loss in test animals, but suspect it is tied to the way the  with nerve and chemical pathways. Studying the test animals revealed that higher levels of the protein in the body led to food being retained longer in the belly, causing the animal to feel full longer and increasing interest in less fatty food. The test animals lost weight because the protein caused them to eat healthier foods and to eat less food in general. In sharp contrast, control test  continued to pile on the pounds. Much more testing of the engineered protein will have to be done, of course, to determine if it would be effective and safe for humans.

But the internet diet scammers likely won’t wait.  In short order, you’ll be seeing them hawk supplements containing GDF15.   So consider this advance warning.  If you see a diet featuring a new “miracle protein” guaranteed to help you lose weight, do not click the BUY button.   It’s a scam.

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