Mar 28, 2011 7:21 PM by Erika Edwards, NBC News (BT)
Imagine being able to lose weight from all your trouble spots: belly, hips, thighs, arms... all without feeling hungry!
Sound too good to be true? Some doctors say yes, but a growing portion of medical professionals disagree and are offering the HCG diet at their practice.
Tammy Settles was 180 pounds heavier just one year ago. "I knew I had to do something, but I didn't know what," she says. What she turned to is the HCG diet.
HCG is a pregnancy hormone that, among other things, burns the Mom's belly fat to feed the baby if the mother isn't getting enough nutrients. Now, both non-pregnant women and men are using that hormone daily, and only eating 500 calories a day. "Making them put on a 500 calorie diet to make it look like they're starving, so that the body thinks it has to feed the baby," says Dr. Peter Fontinos, Medical Director of Revita Medical Center.
Dr. Fontinos says he's treated hundreds of patients who, believe it or not, say they're not hungry while on the HCG diet. "In actuality you're not eating just 500 calories, you're eating 500 calories plus your own body fat which is equivalent to 1500, 4000 calories," said Dr. Fontinos.
But other doctors say there's no clinical evidence the diet works.
"It's very clear from more than a dozen studies that the hormone does nothing - but it's really 500 calorie a day diet that causes dramatic short term weight loss," says Dr. Louis Aronne, Director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
This use of the hormone is not FDA approved. Representatives for the agency say, "HCG has not been demonstrated to be an effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity."
But supporters say patients provide all the proof. "The success rate is 99.9% here at the clinic, the success rate with other fad diets is nominal," said Don Nicholas of Revita Aging.
For now, experts are still weighing whether the HCG diet is a passing fad or here to stay.
We called around the Central Coast and there are doctors who preform this diet treatment in San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara. The diet costs roughly $1,000 per session. Patients following the diet are on the injections and restricted diet for at least 26 days, but no more than 40.
There are risks involved, like an increased risk for blood clots, depression and a life-threatening condition called ovarian hyperstimulation.
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