I thought this diet might be a little bit more popular here than yesterday's.
The "HCG diet"
British endocrinologist Albert T. W. Simeons' proposed HCG as an adjunct to an ultra-low-calorie weight-loss diet (less than 500 calories). Simeons, while studying pregnant women in India on a calorie-deficient diet, and "fat boys" with pituitary problems (Frölich's syndrome) treated with low-dose hCG, claimed that both lost fat rather than lean (muscle) tissue. He reasoned that hCG must be programming the hypothalamus to do this in the former cases in order to protect the developing fetus by promoting mobilization and consumption of abnormal, excessive adipose deposits. Simeons later published a book entitled Pounds and Inches, designed to combat obesity. Simeons, practicing at Salvator Mundi International Hospital in Rome, Italy, recommended low-dose daily hCG injections (125 IU) in combination with a customized ultra-low-calorie (500 cal/day, high-protein, low-carbohydrate/fat) diet loss of adipose tissue without loss of lean tissue.
Simeons' results were not reproduced by other researchers and in 1976 in response to complaints the FDA required Simeons and others to include the following disclaimer on all advertisements:
THESE WEIGHT REDUCTION TREATMENTS INCLUDE THE INJECTION OF HCG, A DRUG WHICH HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION AS SAFE AND EFFECTIVE IN THE TREATMENT OF OBESITY OR WEIGHT CONTROL. THERE IS NO SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE THAT HCG 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-RESTRICTIVE DIETS
— 1976 FDA-mandated disclaimer for HCG diet advertisements
There was a resurgence of interest in the "HCG diet" following promotion by convicted fraudster Kevin Trudeau.
Review studies refuting the HCG diet have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, both concluding that hCG is neither safe nor effective as a weight-loss aid.
A meta analysis found that studies supporting hCG for weight loss were of poor methodological quality and concluded that "there is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity; it does not bring about weight-loss or fat-redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being".
There is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity. The meta-analysis found insufficient evidence supporting the claims that HCG is effective in altering fat-distribution, hunger reduction or in inducing a feeling of well-being. The authors stated “…the use of HCG should be regarded as an inappropriate therapy for weight reduction…” In the authors opinion, “Pharmacists and physicians should be alert on the use of HCG for Simeons therapy. The results of this meta-analysis support a firm standpoint against this improper indication. Restraints on physicians practicing this therapy can be based on our findings.”
According to the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, no new clinical trials have been published since the definitive 1995 meta-analysis.
The scientific consensus is that any weight loss reported by individuals on an "hCG diet" may be attributed entirely to the fact that such diets prescribe calorie intake of between 500 and 1,000 calories per day, substantially below recommended levels for a adult, to the point that this may risk health effects associated with malnutrition. For comparison, hCG diets typically recommend calorie intake approximately half that of the inmates at Auschwitz, where inmates engaged in heavy labor received 1,700 calories per day and those on light work 1,300.