Your Opinion: Warning on HCG for weight loss

Dear Editor:

As a registered dietitian working exclusively in weight management, I feel compelled to offer consumers additional information regarding HCG for weight loss. My area of practice includes the option of a low-carbohydrate, very-low-calorie diet under the direct supervision of Dr. Christopher Case, an endocrinologist, and Dr. Alan Rauba, an internist/diabetologist. Patients on this program experience rapid weight loss with decreased hunger.

Consumers purchasing HCG drops should be aware it is impossible to absorb HCG under the tongue due to its molecular weight. At approximately 39,000 daltons, a protein molecule this size cannot pass through oral tissues. Also, once in contact with enzymes in saliva and gastric acid in the stomach, the molecule would be broken into peptides and amino acids, rendering it non-functional. Injections of HCG have not been proven to aid in weight loss and also carry unknown long-term risks. The FDA considers HCG as a weight loss aid fraudulent.

A 500-calorie diet is typically prescribed with HCG. However, are consumers also aware that food-based very-low-calorie-diets were associated with nutritional deficiencies and electrolyte abnormalities causing heart rhythm disorders, leading to death in the 1970s? The National Institutes of Health and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute state that “VLCDs ... require special monitoring and supplementation ... and are used by specialized practitioners experienced in their use.”

For more information, please see our program descriptions and my article, “Unpacking the ‘Magic’ of HCG at http://www.jcmg.org.

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