With the news that hoodia gordonii, the latest miracle weight loss supplement was about to hit the marketplace, the global media network went into overdrive. As any good journalist will tell you, the ability to disprove any claims and expose something as hype is what drives them to succeed. So, when scientists and the drug companies introduced this cactus like plant from South Africa and proclaimed it to produce outstanding weight loss properties, the press just had to prove them wrong.
Investigative journalists from the United States and the United Kingdom set out to prove that the supposed extraordinary weight loss claims of the hoodia gordonii plant simply weren't true. Little did they know that they were not going to get the story that they hoped for.
A native of the Kalahari Desert region of Southern Africa, the hoodia gordonii plant produces a natural ingredient that is said to be able to reduce hunger cravings whilst at the same time increasing energy levels. Because of these appetite suppressing qualities, hoodia's production as a weight loss supplement gained in popularity and started to show some promising results.
It wasn't long before journalists heard of these claims, and decided that they should test hoodia gordonii themselves. Just how real would the claims of the drug companies and their scientists about hoodia really be?
On assignment in Africa, a news correspondent for CBS's 60 Minutes news program, Leslie Stahl, was invited to try a piece of the hoodia gordonii plant. Her verdict? Stahl reports that she suffered no after effects such as an upset stomach or racing pulse having tried hoodia. But to her, the most surprising result of all was, despite normal hunger pangs that she always experienced around mealtimes, she had had no desire to eat or drink for the whole day. “I'd have to say it did work, " says Stahl.
The weight loss supplements and diet industry as a whole is normally plagued with false and over-exaggerated hype surrounding its multi-billion dollar product lines. So it came as a surprise that hoodia gordonii has been accepted so wholeheartedly by the normally scathing press.
Just as Leslie Stahl had done, Tom Mangold, a news correspondent working for the BBC News in the United Kingdom, approached his investigation of hoodia gordonii in the same way, by traveling out to the Kalahari Desert and taking a bite of the plant directly. Tom reported that for almost 24 hours after he and his camera and sound men had nibbled on the plant, none of them had felt in the least bit hungry. “Dinner time came and went, " he said. “We reached our hotel at about midnight and went to bed without food. The next day, none of us wanted nor ate breakfast. I ate lunch, but without appetite and very little pleasure. "
The majority of dietary products and supplements fail to attract any sort of positive press. It is a constant battle for pharmaceutical companies having to spend millions of dollars in advertising campaigns to convince the public that products like hoodia gordonii do work. When two media representatives of this standing can agree that the reported claims are in fact true, that battle becomes a whole lot easier.
Having come under the media spotlight and passing with flying colors, hoodia gordonii is now the primary ingredient in the majority of diet and weight loss supplements. Hoodia continues to generate a positive response not matched by any other natural ingredient. Rival drug companies desperately try to play down the qualities of this plant, but with the backing of such successful media companies like CBS and the BBC, it will prove hard to compete with the praise and proven success of the hoodia gordonii plant.
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