A month after the FDA announced it’s taking action to remove HCG diet products from the market, advocacy group the HCG Diet Council is fighting back.
It’s been around since the 1950s, but the HCG Dietstill continues to cause controversy. The plan, which requires dieters to take daily injections or supplements of HCG hormones and stick to a 500-calorie diet, has recently come under fire from the FDA, whose officials announced in December that they are taking action to remove HCG products from the market.
Now, the HCG Diet Council, a pro-HCG organization that aims to provide consumers and professionals with information and research on the HCG diet, is creating a petition to help convince the FDA to OK doctor-provided HCG diet drugs.
Currently, HCG as an injectable drug is FDA-approved for treating infertility and other medical conditions, but it is not approved for obesity treatment.
As part of the Council’s HCG Diet Research Program, health care practitioners and dieters who have used HCG are asked to submit information and testimonials about their experiences. Currently, most people who use HCG either get injections from doctors or clinics that support the diet, or purchase hormone pills on the Internet. This uneven regulation, coupled with the fact that the FDA has found little to no evidence that HCG assists with weight loss and believes very low-calorie diets to be dangerous, is why the agency has chosen to target HCG.
“These HCG products marketed over-the-counter are unproven to help with weight loss and are potentially dangerous even if taken as directed,” Ilisa Bernstein, acting director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release at the time of the FDA announcement. “And a very low calorie diet should only be used under proper medical supervision.”
Beth Golden, PhD, and founder of the HCG Diet Council does agree that HCG should only be used with medical supervision and that more research needs to be conducted, but her organization wants to stop the FDA’s attempt to ban the use of HCG for weight loss. Keri Gans, RD, a New York-based dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says that the perceived success of the HCG diet comes from calorie restriction, not the hormones.
“People who stay on the HCG diet for a long time could become malnourished,” she says. “You can’t meet your nutritional needs on 500 calories a day.”