The latest fad diet to undergo a huge surge in popularity is the controversial HCG weight loss plan, touted as a miracle solution for fast weight loss. Whilst there is no doubt that many who buy into the diet do lose weight, medical professionals have condemned it as dangerous.
Human chorionic genadotophin is a hormone produced during early pregnancy and is a licensed drug for infertility treatment. It is only available by prescription, yet those selling the HCG diet cash in by using it for weight loss. However the FDA states that the use of HCG for weight loss is illegal and fraudulent.
Companies such as HCG diet.com sell the diet by proclaiming that the hormone HCG will help your body burn your stored fats. The hormone can be administered by injection or by drops, taken in conjunction with a restrictive 500 calorie a day diet.
Diet promoters claim that the hormone makes dieters lose their appetite, a theory disproven in over a dozen trials. Dieters respond to the suggestibility of this notion and lose weight due to the starvation level of calories, well below the recommended 1200 for women and 1800 for men. 500 calories a day could well lead to anorexia and is patently unhealthy, depriving the body of vital nutrients.
Dieters will lose weight on the diet, but will regain it after completing the diet, a familiar story with fad diets. The restricted calories leads diet promoters to recommending that followers of the HCG diet do not engage in exercise.
Anyone selling the HCG hormone for weight loss is obliged to label the drug with the disclaimer that “HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or “normal” distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”
HCG diet com sell the ‘free’ diet for $79 for the 26 day program intended for weight loss of less than 20 pounds. The 40 day ‘free program’ for weight loss of more than 20 pounds costs $143. The company advertises the diet as free even though it clearly isn’t, because dieters will save the equivalent money on food.
Dr Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, told ABC News “This diet is appalling. It takes irresponsible diets to new heights. When you restrict calories to that level, there’s a real risk for not providing your body with enough essential amino acids, so it scavenges itself. In some instances, it can cause the body to scavenge from critical places, like the heart.”
His criticism is shared by Pieter Cohen MD, of the Cambridge Health Alliance at Harvard Medical School who says “most people won’t die from the HCG diet, but many will develop other health problems like hair loss, constipation and gallstones.”
Dieters hoping to shed the pounds would be best advised to steer clear of this dangerous trend and instead follow a healthy eating plan combined with exercise, rather than risk the side effects and health problems associated with starvation diets.