Health Team

FDA: Hormone diet drug doesn't work

Posted February 25, 2011

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— A weight-loss program based on a homeopathic product and a restrictive diet is gaining devoted followers, but it isn't all it claims to be, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

Various diet programs based on human chorionic gonadotropin, or HGC, appear to be a dieter's dream – take the homeopathic hormone, eat a very low-calorie diet, and avoid strenuous exercise.

"I haven't worked out one day, and I've lost 31 pounds" in two weeks, HCG dieter Shawn Welch said.

HCG diet called a fraud HCG diet called a fraud

Welch said he's always been a big guy.

"It's just because I love to eat. I admit. That's why I'm here," he said. "I have to get over that because of what's happening in my life and how I feel."

High blood pressure and cholesterol forced Welch to make changes, and a friend recommended HCG. It's a natural hormone produced in large quantities during pregnancy.

People like Welch take a few drops of HCG a day. A 2-ounce bottle is priced around $70 to $80.

More than 50 years ago, Dr. Albert Simeons found that HCG supplements helped obese people break down problem fat and suppress their appetite – if they stick to a 500 calorie-a-day plan of lean protein, fruit, vegetables, no starches or refined sugars, and plenty of water.

"That's actually the reason people are losing weight – not because of HCG drops," said Ashley Honeycutt, a registered dietitian with Rex Healthcare.

FDA officials have called over-the-counter HCG "fraudulent" and said it doesn't even fit their definition of homeopathic.

"There's no research behind it to say that it actually works," Honeycutt said.

Welch said he's convinced the drug is the key to helping his body return to a normal metabolism, so once the weight is gone, maintaining it will be easier.

"The thing to this HCG diet is it resets your hypothalamus," he said.

Honeycutt, though, said that a HCG diet is just like every other low-calorie diet.

"It's going to be a quick fix, and the minute you start to go back to normal eating, you're going to gain every bit of that weight back, plus some," she said.

Welch agreed that keeping the weight off is the key test, but he said that for now, hunger isn't a problem, and he feels great.

"I'm losing weight. I'm energetic," he said.

The FDA does not consider HCG products to be dangerous to a person's health, so they are considered a low priority for any action.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Heather Mar 3, 2011

    I know the secret to losing weight and I'll tell you for only $19.95. Just kidding! Here it is - eat right and exercise. I eat around 2,000-2,500 calories a day, run 15 miles a week and wear a size 1. It's not rocket science people and there are no magic cures. Oh, and eating right, is not a bowl of McDonalds oatmeal which is a far cry from healthy. My normal breakfast is a bowl of granola, topped with greek yogurt and fresh fruit, 2 eggs, and whole wheat toast with a tbsp of peanut butter - and I'm talking fresh, grind-your-own - not that junk they sell in the grocery store that's laden with sugar. I'll have a snack again in a couple hours, a big lunch, another snack, a big dinner, and another snack before bed.

  • ambernicole919 Mar 1, 2011

    there is this other diet I heard about called ZiXiuTang.. its no calories no diets no exercise just the diet pills its crazy

  • ktizzle Mar 1, 2011

    Try formerly He has a spray instead of drops and the site offers and incredible support group!

    And if anyone would like to challenge on a 500 calorie diet with and without HCG...I would gladly accept! you will lose weight in your face, around your joints, and on the bottoms of your feet. I will lose in my gut. I went from a size 43 pants to a 32-34 and lost nearly 4 inches in neck size.

    Think this article has me fired up?

  • ktizzle Mar 1, 2011

    and PS...plenty of people are making bogus HHCG so find a reputable source.

  • ktizzle Mar 1, 2011

    I've lost 65 lbs on homeopathic HCG and I've kept every single pound off. If I had tried to eat a 500 cal diet without the HCG I would have been starving and I would have lost structural fat and not unnatural fat. I would have looked gaunt in the face. I have the pics to prove that I used to have man boobs and now I have NONE! My BP is at 110/70 and my sugar counts went from "You Will Be a Diabetic" to your sugar counts are low. This diet not only works, it teaches you how to eat proper portions and how to eat natural, whole foods. Try that on NutriSystem or Jenny Craig. Results are proof. I will gladly send before and after pics to you if you ask me to. I have never felt better in my life and if HHCG had anything to do with it, you shouldn't hate on it!

  • sonoluminescence Feb 28, 2011

    It's more power to you if this is helping you lose weight, although I do not believe it has anything to do with the hormone - especially if it's homeopathic.

    What makes me mad is to see people who wasting their money like this - even if you believe that this product works - it can't possibly cost them more than 50 cents to make a bottle of the solution, yet people are paying $75 for a bottle. This is just unconscionable to me. As people critical of Big Pharm would say, "follow the money!" Where is the competition in homeopathic medicine that could easily bring these costs down?

  • meBNme Feb 28, 2011

    I've known Shawn Welch personally for years.
    He's one of the best people you could ever meet.
    "The life of the party"
    "The light that brigtens a dark room"
    A well informed intelligent guy, with an aweso me business ethic.
    I'm a little ticked at how WRAL portrayed him in this diet thing.

    Obviously SOMETHING is working here!
    If HCG curbs his appitite, or burns fat or heck, even if it just convinces folks its working but does nothing, it still gives the person faith that SOMETHING will work and they can actually lose the weight!

    So really... how many folks can stick to a 500 cal diet???

    If all HCG does is help you stick to that, then its a sucess.

    The way WRAL portrayed Shwn in this "news story" has lowered their credibility by a good 5 points for me.

  • hppyhourhero Feb 28, 2011

    they stick to a 500 calorie-a-day plan of lean protein, fruit, vegetables, no starches or refined sugars, and plenty of water....Yes, anybody can lose weight consuming only 500 cals a day.

  • jwms1940 Feb 25, 2011

    You can get the product from Dr Paul Williams

  • kfccaddell Feb 25, 2011

    where do you get this product