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HCG for Weight Loss: What Does the Research Show?

Whitney | September 12th, 2012

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The HCG diet is not new; in fact, it dates back many decades. This natural substance (the female hormone human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG) has been the subject of numerous studies to determine whether it is a legitimate weight loss tool. Studies have primarily focused on daily injections of HCG for weight loss, with less positive results than those touted by HCG diet proponents. Some expert weight loss physicians, including those at The Center for Medical Weight Loss, have voiced concerns over HCG diet dangers.

“Don’t look to an HCG weight loss program to lose weight,” warns Dr. Michael Kaplan, founder of the Center, the largest group of weight loss doctors in the country. “Not only are they expensive and unproven – they’re dangerous.”

Dr. Kaplan seems to have a long list of scientific studies to back him up on this point. What has decades of research concluded about the purported “fat burning” qualities of HCG? In a two-part series, we present all of the major scientific findings …

Dr. Craig’s HCG Diet Reviews

A study conducted by Dr. Leela S. Craig in 1963 lasted 45 days and involved two groups of women placed on a 550-calorie daily diet. One group of the women was given daily injections of HCG, while the other group was given a placebo injection. Nearly every subject in the study lost weight, which suggested the results were due to the diet, rather than the HCG.

As Dr. Kaplan explains, “It is true that people on HCG diet programs do lose weight, but what the ads don’t say is that along with HCG injections, drops, pills, pellets and sprays, people follow a very restrictive and nutritionally unsound 500-calorie-a-day diet plan. No wonder they lose weight! But it’s not because of the HCG, it’s because of the extremely low calorie intake.”

Asher-Harper Study: 1973

In 1973, the Asher-Harper study found that women who were given HCG and a 500-calorie daily diet lost more weight than the women on the 500-calorie diet alone. In the results of the study, it was noted that Dr. Harper ran a practice that used HCG as a weight loss tool. However, the results of this research are considered legitimate, and one of the few that actually shows a connection between daily HCG supplements and weight loss.

Stein Study Follows on Heels of Asher-Harper

A follow-up was done on the Asher-Harper study by M.R. Stein and colleagues in 1976. The study examined 51 women between the ages of 18 and 60 in a double-blind comparison that included dieters receiving HCG injections and those that did not. This study used the same 500-calorie diet as the Asher-Harper study, but this study did not find a significant weight loss difference between the women who took HCG and those that did not.

Young Study

Also in 1976, Lt. Colonel Robert Young and his colleagues looked at more than 200 patients in a double-blind crossover study to determine whether HCG diet injections really delivered on their promises. This study also used a 500-calorie, fat-free diet. The Young study found no difference between test subjects receiving HCG and those who received a placebo.

Shetty-Kalkhoff Study

One year later, Drs. Shetty and Kalkhoff conducted a study of hospitalized obese women to determine the effects of HCG on weight loss. This study looked at 11 women, six of whom were given daily HCG injections and placed on 500-calorie diets for 30 days. The other five were given the same diet and a placebo. The study found that HCG had no impact on weight loss.

While positive HCG diet reviews on the internet and in TV infomercials have boosted the popularity of this diet program, concerns over HCG diet dangers and mixed results from studies have left many wondering if this is the best approach to safe, effective and long-term weight loss.

The Center for Medical Weight Loss has generated thousands of stories of weight loss success by implementing a physician-guided program that incorporates diet, exercise and personalized counseling for best results.

“Patients following a medical weight loss program like the one at The Center for Medical Weight Loss not only lose weight quickly, they do so safely,” reports Dr. Kaplan. “And unlike HCG diet programs, the medical weight loss approach has been scientifically proven to help people lose excess weight and keep it off.”

The Center for Medical Weight Loss currently offers 450 locations nationwide to help dieters reach their weight loss goals. Use the zip code box at the right to see if there is a center near you. Introductory offers are available for first-time visitors at select centers.