Are You Tired of hCG Yet?

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by Esther Hansen, RD, RDN 

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Ft. Collins Weight Loss & Nutrition

hCG weight loss has swept the market and has become commoditized and polluted.  I used to work with a physician who prescribed the real, injectable hormone and though many patients successfully lost weigh, most of them gained it all back.  Read more about my views on hCG and other weight loss methods here.  

I try to be open-minded, realizing that obesity can be a life-threatening condition that sometimes justifies extreme measures.  Yet after 6 years in the field, I am more convinced than ever that the only way to sustainably lose weight is via nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and psychological self-care.      

I was in Sprouts the other day and saw "homeopathic hCG drops."  It seems like every chiropractor, web site, wellness professional and now grocery store is selling this homeopathic version touting it as "the weight loss cure."  This comes in a liquid form vs. injection.  I started researching and asking patients and practitioners about their experience with this.  A few people were happy with the results, until they gained it back!  Mostly people were terribly hungry, lost muscle, gained fat and developed a messed-up relationship with food.

The FDA has never recognized or approved hormonal hCG as a weight loss mechanism (though other countries routinely use it) and now they have found that the homeopathic version is a sugar-water placebo.  It is illegal for a label to claim to have hCG in it unless it is the real hormone prescribed by a physician.  Even if the over-the-counter homeopathic versions had the hormone in it (also illegal without a prescription) the hormone would be destroyed by your stomach acids rendering it useless.  

Taking homeopathic hCG + a 500 calorie diet is starving yourself and there will be metabolic repercussions so beware.  Instead of starving yourself, learn to feed yourself healthy foods that taste good and make you feel good.  The diet industry has messed up our heads!  Let's reclaim a healthy relationship with food and with our bodies.    

 

Read more about my views on weight loss here.

Interesting press release:  

FDA NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: December 6, 2011
Media Inquiries: Shelly Burgess 301-796-4651, shelly.burgess@fda.hhs.gov or Tamara Ward 301-796-7567, Tamara.Ward@fda.hhs.gov
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

FDA, FTC act to remove “homeopathic” HCG weight loss products from the market. Joint action is first step in halting sale of the products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today issued seven Warning Letters to companies marketing over-the counter (OTC) HCG products that are labeled as “homeopathic” for weight loss.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone produced by the human placenta and found in the urine of pregnant women. HCG is FDA-approved as an injectable prescription drug for the treatment of some cases of female infertility and other medical conditions.

The letters warn the companies that they are violating federal law by selling drugs that have not been approved, and by making unsupported claims for the substances. There are no FDA-approved HCG drug products for weight loss.

The joint action is the first step in keeping the unproven and potentially unsafe products from being marketed online and in retail outlets as oral drops, pellets, and sprays.

The labeling for the “homeopathic” HCG products states that each product should be taken in conjunction with a very low calorie diet. There is no substantial evidence HCG increases weight loss beyond that resulting from the recommended caloric restriction.  Consumers on a very low calorie diet are at increased risk for side effects including gallstone formation, electrolyte imbalance, and heart arrhythmias.

“These HCG products marketed over-the-counter are unproven to help with weight loss and are potentially dangerous even if taken as directed,” said Ilisa Bernstein, acting director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “And a very low calorie diet should only be used under proper medical supervision.”

“Deceptive advertising about weight loss products is one of the most prevalent types of fraud,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Any advertiser who makes health claims about a product is required by federal law to back them up with competent and reliable scientific evidence, so consumers have the accurate information they need to make good decisions.”

According to the Warning Letters, the companies have 15 days to notify the FDA of the steps they have taken to correct the violations cited. Failure to do so may result in legal action, including seizure and injunction, or criminal prosecution.  
Consumers and health care professionals are encouraged to report adverse events (side effects) that may be related to the use of these products to MedWatch, the FDA's voluntary reporting program, by calling 800-FDA-1088, or electronically atwww.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.