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hCG Diet Controversy on Dr. Oz

Human chorionic gonadotrophin is a hormone that’s naturally present in the body during pregnancy. Advocates of the hCG diet claim that daily administration of hCG is a safe way to suppress hunger and, thus, lose weight. According to Dr. Oz, “after 50 years of research, there is still no proven medical reason why hCG will keep you from getting hungry.” That’s right, after 50 years, it’s not yet been proven to work and yet thousands of people claim to see dramatic results from it- as much as one to two pounds of weight loss per day! On the flip side, skeptics of the diet warn of serious side effects. Is hCG a weight loss miracle, or is it just too dangerous to try? Dr. Oz digs deep to find the truth.

To begin, Dr. Oz spoke with a practitioner, Dr. Sheri Emma, who offers a six week hCG diet program to her patients. It costs approximately $800 and consists of daily hCG injections and a strict 500 calorie diet. Dr. Emma tried to explain that the hCG diet’s 500 calorie limits are not dangerous because the dieter receives any extra energy from stored body fat. At which point, Dr. Oz admitted that most of us do have “tens of thousands of calories just on hips alone” However, registered dietitian Keri Gans argued that stored fat does not contain the proper amount of vitamins and minerals that the body needs each day. Way to go Keri- I think that’s a very valid point and Dr. Oz seemed to think so, too!

In regards to the homeopathic droplets, Gary Arbuckle, a seller of hCG drops, claims that he lost 35 pounds in a matter of 40 days. The biggest contradiction here is that hCG drops do not require a prescription because they only contain trace amounts of hCG. Could this be a placebo effect?

Placebo effect or not, the testimonies weren’t enough to convince me. Just as many people have spoken up against the hCG diet and rattled off a list of side effects. Among them are: lethargy, headaches, dizziness, loss of consciousness, loss of period, nausea, hair loss, mood swings and more. There are also some suggestions that hCG could cause or exacerbate cancer. Furthermore, Dr. Pieter Cohen claimed that the CDC found a connection between sudden cardiac deaths and extremely low calorie diets. That’s a frightening summary of side effects and I, for one, can’t imagine all of that being worth the quick fix of losing a pound a day. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned exercise?

In conclusion, there just isn’t enough information to prove the relevance and safety of hCG for weight loss. Dr. Oz offered his personal advice: “There’s no proof, that I can tell, that the hCG injections that have been used in the past have worked for weight loss but I’m seeing a lot of reasons to reevaluate, intriguing reasons to reevaluate that… we might find new ways to help millions of people who do not have another solution find an option and for that reason I think it’s worth investigating.” Regardless of his opinion that the hCG diet warrants further study, and not abandonment, Dr. Oz warns:

  • Do not buy hCG supplements. The no-shot method may seem attractive, but they are a waste of money. In fact, they contain little to no hCG.
  • Do not restrict yourself to less than 1,200 calories a day without the supervision of a doctor.
  • More studies must be done.

I respect Dr. Oz’s opinion and I recognize the relevance of it. More studies would provide us with a better understanding of the positive effects that some people are experiencing. Personally though, I would never go on this diet. 500 calories a day is just not enough.

February 23rd, 2011