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Health Experts Warn of HCG Diet Dangers

Ava Lawson | December 8th, 2012

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You have probably seen ads splashed all over the media for HCG weight loss programs and wondered if they actually work. The quick answer: no. Despite several clinical studies, there is no evidence to indicate the HCG diet works as advertised. Even more alarming, dieters who use HCG products are putting their health in serious jeopardy.

HCG for weight loss: past and present

So, what is HCG and how did it become linked to weight loss in the first place? Human chorionic gonadotropin is a pregnancy hormone that is approved for infertility treatments. The hormone was indicated for weight management during obesity studies in the early 1950s by British endocrinologist, A.T.W. Simeons. Simeons found that HCG positively affects the hypothalamus, which he believed was the gland responsible for fat regulation. He published his findings in “Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity,” a manuscript that promoted the use of HCG in conjunction with a very low calorie diet for weight loss. The program was wildly popular for a few years before being largely forgotten.

Fast forward to 2007 when an infomercial by Kevin Trudeau, who was promoting his new book “The Weight Loss Cure, What THEY Don’t Want You To Know,” sparked a renewed interest in the HCG diet. Overweight Americans were suddenly consumed by the HCG craze and began ordering the products online, and outside the country.

From the start, HCG products promised easy weight loss – up to 30 pounds in as little as a month when combined with a low calorie diet (typically around 500 calories per day). In 2008, Trudeau was hit with a $37 million fine by the Federal Trade Commission for misleading claims, but the fad diet has persisted to this day.

HCG diet dangers

Health experts around the nation and within the FDA say such restrictive diets can be exceptionally hazardous. “These products are marketed with incredible claims and people think that if they’re losing weight, HCG must be working,” stated Elizabeth Miller, of FDA’s division for non-prescription drugs and health fraud. “But the data simply does not support this – any loss is from severe calorie restriction. Not from the HCG.”

Dr. Michael Kaplan, founder and chief medical officer for The Center for Medical Weight Loss, agrees. “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,” explains Kaplan.

The FDA has labeled HCG diet products marketed as homeopathic as both fraudulent and illegal, and suggests that consumers who’ve purchased HCG weight loss products discontinue using them and stop following the diet instructions.

Bottom line: do not rely on HCG weight loss products

The HCG weight loss program is yet another quick-fix fad that can actually put your health at risk. The plan does not address the most important factor in successful weight loss stories: healthy eating. Without this behavior modification, patients’ old eating habits will return after they stop the low calorie diet, resulting in rebound weight gain.

On the other hand, patients following a physician-guided weight loss program, like those available at The Center for Medical Weight Loss – not only lose weight swiftly, they do so safely. And unlike popular diets like the HCG plan, a medical weight loss approach has been scientifically proven to help patients lose extra weight and keep it off for good.

Best way to lose weight … and keep it off

The American Journal of Medicine released the results of a weight loss study revealing that patients lose an average of 11.1% of total body weight in 12 weeks on the physician-assisted program developed by The Center for Medical Weight Loss. That means the average patient weighing 250 pounds can expect to lose 28 pounds in only three months, while establishing healthy lifestyle habits that will keep the pounds dropping off.

If you’ve been searching for a safe way to shed excess pounds, The Center for Medical Weight Loss has over 450 locations nationwide. To find one nearest you, just enter your zip code in the space provided. Special introductory offers are available in most centers for first-time clients.