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The Use of HCG for Weight Loss: A Second Point of View

When contended therapies are presented, Desert Health will attempt to publish two viewpoints for reader consideration.

The use of HCG as a dietary treatment was first published in 19541 by Dr. A. Simeons and has been controversial ever since. Early studies published in the 60’s and 70’s supported Simeons’ claims that HCG, when administered with a very low calorie diet, had numerous advantages including rapid weight loss with minimal hunger, no weakness, and dramatic loss of fat in the stomach, hips, thighs, and upper arms.2, 3 The diet was popular in the 70’s, but fell from favor after a series of clinical trials disputed the early evidence and proved that the HCG in the Simeons method was ineffectual and that the weight loss was due to the diet.4-7

Popular demand for HCG in the treatment of obesity has recently resurfaced in the United States. However, the National Institute for Health states that: “HCG has not been demonstrated to be an effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it 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-restricted diets.”

The American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) released a statement this year concluding that the use of HCG for weight loss is not recommended as a dietary treatment. Their statement notes that “A meta-analysis review in 1995 of prior studies concluded that there is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity.8 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. PubMed and Google Scholar searches (on December 2, 2009) revealed no favorable reports on the Simeons method since the 1995 meta-analysis. On the other hand, no significant harmful effects of HCG injections have been described in the medical literature.”

Some bariatric surgeons feel that HCG does have a place. Dr. Ramy A. Awad, a Board-Certified minimally invasive surgeon specializing in bariatric surgery here in the Desert states, “We do make HCG available for patients who are not candidates for surgical weight loss; however, we do not feel it is a singular method for sustainable weight loss as results are short lived. In addition, HCG should always be administered under medical supervision.”

Sources: 1) Simeons A. The action of chorionic gonadotropin in the obese. Lancet 1954; 2: 946-947. 2) Asher WL, Harper HW. Effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss, hunger, and feeling of well-being. Am J Clin Nutr 1973; 26: 211-218. 3) Lebon P. Treatment of overweight patients with gonadotropin: follow-up study. J Am Geriat Soc 1966; 14: 116-125 4) Greenway FL, Bray GA. Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity: a critical assessment of the Simeons method. West J Med 1977; 127: 461-463. PMCID: 1237915. 5) Stein M, Julis R, Peck C, Hinshaw W, Sawicki J, Deller J, Jr. Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotropin in weight reduction: a double-blind study. Am J Clin Nutr 1976; 29: 940-948. 6) Young RL, Fuchs RJ, Woltjen MJ. Chorionic Gonadotropin in Weight Control: A Double-Blind Crossover Study. JAMA 1976; 236: 2495-2497. 7) Bosch B, Venter I, Stewart RI, Bertram SR. Human chorionic gonadotrophin and weight loss. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. S Afr Med J 1990; 77: 185-189. 8) Lijesen GK, Theeuwen I, Assendelft WJ, Van Der Wal G. The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteriabased meta-analysis. British journal of clinical pharmacology 1995; 40: 237-243. PMCID:

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