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Weight Management craze addressed by FDA

FEDS TAKE LEGAL ACTION ON HCG DIET
We’ve all fallen prey to quick fix weight loss gimmicks, particularly when we’re eager to shed those unwanted pounds rapidly.  But recent warnings issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the risks associated with taking HCG for weight loss, shed some telling light on the hazards associated with over the counter (OTC) weight loss supplements.

HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy, which is approved by the FDA as a prescription drug solely for the treatment of female infertility, and other medical conditions.  It is not approved for weight loss. In fact, the prescription drug label notes there “is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction; or that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat; or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”

FDA is warning consumers that over the counter HCG products marketed as weight loss aids are unproven and illegal.
HCG is not approved for OTC sale for any purpose and has been labeled as illegal by the FDA.  Furthermore, the FDA and FTC have jointly issued seven Warning Letters to companies illegally marketing OTC HCG products labeled for weight loss.

The letters warn the companies that they are violating federal law by selling drugs that have not been approved by the FDA or FTC, and by making unsupported claims for the substances.

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.

HCG products claim to “reset your metabolism,” change “abnormal eating patterns,” and shave 20-30 pounds in 30-40 days.
Nevertheless, shrewd proponents of the HCG diet enthusiastically, and often convincingly claim that HCG can help you lose weight, burn fat and redistribute fat away from your buttocks and stomach.  Most have even gone so far as to claim that HCG is an FDA-approved homeopathic remedy, which it is not.

On the HCG diet, you either receive injections of HCG, or take HCG supplements, commonly in the form of drops.  In conjunction with taking HCG, the HCG diet also requires you to drastically cut your calorie intake, typically consuming just 500 to 800 calories a day – about one-fourth to one-half of the standard calorie recommendations – which is essentially akin to starving yourself.

Although researchers have studied the HCG diet for years, no high-quality studies have shown that the hormone itself helps weight loss.  Following any very low calorie diet is likely to result in weight loss, regardless of taking HCG.  It is the decrease in calories that accounts for any weight loss, not HCG.

HCG WARNING!
Severe calorie restriction can make it hard to meet all of your nutritional needs.  And rapid weight loss can lead to gallstones. Also, HCG can cause side effects, including headache, fatigue, irritability and male breast enlargement. What’s more, once you stop the HCG diet, you’re likely to regain any weight you lost.

Again, there are currently no FDA-approved HCG products designed to help you lose weight.  So scratch what you’ve read about HCG on magazine headlines or heard on television.  HCG is an illegal, unproven and potentially harmful weight loss gimmick.

Play It Safe
The key to permanent weight loss is developing healthy eating and exercise habits — not following fad diets.  You may also choose to incorporate safe natural supplements such as digestive enzymes into your diet.

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About Earl Mindell R.PH., M. PH., PH.D

I opened my first pharmacy in 1965. Until then I never realized just how many drugs people were taking, not for illness but simply to get through the day! By 1970 I was totally committed to nutrition and preventive medicine. I went into partnership with another pharmacist for the prime purpose of making natural vitamins and accurate nutrition information available to the public. Today, as a nutritionist, lecturer, and author, I'm still excited about that world that opened up to me over 40 years ago - a world that continues to grow with new discoveries daily - and I'm eager to share it!

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