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HCG Diet Plan Warning Issued by FDA

Neil Donaghy | November 23rd, 2012

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The Food & Drug Administration has advised consumers to steer clear of the HCG diet plan, a homeopathic remedy utilizing the hormone extracted from the human placenta. They say HCG weight loss is a fallacy, and have warned at least seven companies that their HCG diet products are not approved for over the counter sale.

Products containing HCG claim to “reset metabolism” and help patients lose up to 30 pounds in a month. But HCG diet plan products are usually labeled with advice urging users to stick to a daily intake of no more than 500 calories – well below the RDA (recommended daily amount) for adults. Medical experts say any weight loss experienced occurs solely as a result of the reduced calorie intake, and not the drug itself.

HCG and female infertility

HCG – or human chorionic gonadotropin – is a hormone produced during pregnancy. It is often injected into women with low fertility, as it encourages ovaries to mature and release eggs. In 1954, a British doctor first posited the idea of using HCG – in combination with a very low calorie diet – as a weight loss remedy.

The diet’s popularity soon died out after weight loss claims were not substantiated by scientific studies. By the 70s, physicians were no longer prescribing the hormone for dieting purposes.

HCG diet plan in the 21st century

The HCG diet protocol experienced an unexpected resurgence in 2007 following a popular infomercial. HCG products sprang up across the U.S., despite the lack of evidence for successful HCG weight loss. Since then, the FDA has issued alerts to manufacturers of homeopathic diet remedies containing HCG, saying “if these companies don’t heed our warnings, they could face enforcement actions, legal penalties or criminal prosecution.”

HCG weight loss

The consequences of sticking to the 500 daily calories suggested by HCG products can be disastrous for health. Homeopathic remedies contain negligible amounts of active ingredients, and are generally considered ineffectual by most medical experts. There is a list of active ingredients commonly included in homeopathic products that have been approved for market by the FDA – and HCG is not on it. The FDA is advising consumers to stop using homeopathic HCG products.

HCG side effects

The extreme, restrictive diets recommended by HCG advocates can lead to gallstone formation, electrolyte imbalance and irregular heart-rate. Most people hoping to lose weight should not reduce their normal daily calorie intake by more than 500 calories per day, according to medical experts.

Dr. Michael Kaplan, founder of The Center for Medical Weight Loss, says, “Following a 500-calorie-a-day diet is extremely unhealthy because it cannot possibly provide the nutrition and energy needed for even the most basic bodily functions. Such a low calorie plan also triggers the body’s starvation response, which slows the metabolism and forces muscle and water loss instead of fat loss.”

According to Kaplan, HCG side effects can be even more serious:

“HCG is also dangerous because the compounding pharmacies who make the HCG products by extracting the hormone out of the urine of pregnant women do not test the urine donors for infectious diseases such as HIV or hepatitis. That means anyone following an HCG program could be at risk of being exposed to these and other illnesses borne by bodily fluids.”

The physicians at The Center For Medical Weight Loss create unique diet and exercise plans for each patient, taking into account their individual lifestyles, medical histories, and weight loss goals. People who lose weight successfully through the program have kept off the pounds: A study in the American Journal of Medicine showed that over 95% of patients maintained weight loss after one year.

To find out if there is a Center near you, enter your zip code into the box at the right. Special offers are available for first-time visitors at select locations.