The Obesity Society Finds HCG Useless for Obesity

The weight-loss market is cluttered with bogus diet schemes designed to attract people eager to lose weight. One of those schemes is the HCG diet, built around the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). The Food and Drug Administration and FTC have acted to remove HCG weight-loss products from the market and halt the sale of these products, yet popular diet books and promotion by a well-known TV physician have led to questionable clinics offering this useless treatment. To bring greater clarity about HCG, the Obesity Society released a position statement concluding that HCG is an ineffective approach to treating obesity.

HCG diet is a low calorie diet combined with the use of an HCG drug, such as a daily injection of the HCG hormone or use of HCG drops. HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy that is made by the developing embryo after conception, and later by part of the placenta. HCG is thought by some to help the body burn fat. The use of HCG to treat obesity was first suggested by British physician Albert T. Simeons in a 1954 Lancet medical journal article. Simeons’ program consisted of injecting 125 units of HCG per day six days a week for six weeks, along with a daily 500 calorie diet. Simeons claimed that those on this program lost 20 to 30 pounds over the course of six weeks.

It’s worth noting that 500 calories is about what you get from a bagel with cream cheese and coffee with cream. Most anyone who eats only 500 calories a day will lose weight without HCG.

As fad diets go, the HCG diet has some sizzle and the illusion of a scientific story. When presented by a popular television doctor as the “fat burning diet,” it sounds appealing and the uninformed might find the claims credible. Like other fad diets though, the story is false. There is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity. A combined analysis of 24 clinical studies in 1994 concluded that there is no proof that HCG causes weight loss, redistributes fat, reduces hunger, or creates a feeling of well-being.

The Obesity Society supports people with obesity and advocates for therapies that are evidence-based and that effectively address obesity. Individuals are drawn to easy-sounding solutions to bring about desired change, and perhaps this is a major reason why more clinics are offering the HCG diet – that and the fact that clinics can profit by recommending this unproven diet. The Obesity Society’s position statement reminds individuals and policy makers that what sounds like a promising weight-loss approach is unconditionally fraudulent.

Click here to read the Obesity Society’s position statement.

HCG Structure, image by Borislav Mitev / Wikimedia