The Showdown Between HCG and Placebos
While the initial study performed and published by Dr. Simeons backed his claims of the hCG diet's effectiveness, subsequent studies have produced the type of results that don't get mentioned on late-night diet-fad infomercials.
Most independent, peer-reviewed studies of the hCG diet have shown no difference in weight loss between subjects on a low-calorie diet who received hCG injections and subjects who received a placebo [source: Conis]. One study even showed that both the placebo group and the hCG group reported major hunger pangs throughout the treatment.
Regardless, once a person stops the hCG diet, he or she will have to adopt a normal and healthy lifestyle, or the weight's just coming back. Proponents of the hCG diet maintain that the purpose of the diet is to break food addictions and abnormal eating behaviors, and that the month or so of treatment allows a person to do so. In this sense, the diet hopes to achieve short-term weight loss with long-term behavioral modification.
Of course, eating well-proportioned meals is much easier when you're injecting stimulants and hunger-suppressing hormones. If you gain weight again, the doctor or clinic -- upon the follow-up visit -- may recommend you start the treatment over again. Therefore, you may just scrap real attempts to change eating habits and sign on to long-term use of chemicals without fixing the real problem: your diet and exercise habits.
A month-long course of hCG injections and crash dieting will likely help you lose weight, but perhaps what you should be asking yourself is whether or not this is the best way to permanently modify your poor eating habits.
In addition to the reliability of a new diet fad popping up to replace the one before it, there's another constant when it comes to dieting: No matter what you do, maintaining a healthy weight depends on eating right and exercising.
For more information on dieting and health through the years, see the next page.
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