Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H., a board-certified bariatric physician, is often asked about the safety and effectiveness of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) as he prescribes weight loss and nutrition plans for his patients at the Center for Nutrition and Preventive Medicine offices in Leawood and Topeka.
“HCG injections have been a part of fad diets on and off since the 1950’s and recently re-surfaced in the media,” said Tague. “As an unproven therapy, we never recommend the use of HCG as part of a weight loss program.”
“HCG has been studied, and while no significant harmful effects have been noted when used for weight loss, neither has there been any medical or research evidence that HCG is any more effective than placebo in treating obesity,” said Tague.
HCG is a hormone secreted by the trophoblastic cells from the placenta during pregnancy. HCG is used medically to signal the hypothalamus (area of the brain that controls other hormones) to trigger ovulation in women who have infertility due to lack of ovulation. In men, HCG is sometimes used to raise testosterone levels. Since HCG is a biologically active hormone, it should always be monitored medically for possible side effects.
A 1995 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology found no sufficient evidence that HCG could effectively alter fat distribution, hunger or induce a feeling of well-being and concluded that the weight loss was entirely due to the very low calorie diet (VLCD) of 500 calories per day used in the study. The authors stated, “… the use of HCG should be regarded as an inappropriate therapy for weight reduction…” ¹.
In earlier studies, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the authors stated, “There was no statistically significant difference between those receiving HCG vs. placebo during any phase of this study.”²
“At the Center for Nutrition, we only recommend medically researched and proven therapies based on solid research,” said Tague. “In the last 14 years as a bariatric physician, I have seen the value of using a comprehensive, individualized approach for each and every patient to aggressively manage the very challenging condition of overweight or obesity.”
“Using unproven therapies like HCG and similar fad approaches that have not been well substantiated with research is to be discouraged,” said Tague. “We are dedicated to empowering patients to achieve and maintain optimal weight and metabolic health through scientifically based protocols and treatments, based on bariatric science and expert implementation by a dedicated and trained professional staff.”
At the Center for Nutrition, we recommend that only proven strategies with a record of both safety and effectiveness be considered for weight loss. Patients at the Center for Nutrition receive a thorough medical evaluation initially to determine the underlying causes of the excess weight. This includes laboratory assessment of nutrients, certain hormones, and a variety of important metabolic factors. Once the evaluation is complete, an individualized nutrition plan is designed with specific goals in mind.
Tague is an honors graduate of Tulane University Medical School, New Orleans, LA, with an M.D. degree and a Masters in Public Health degree. He is board certified by the American Board of Bariatric Medicine and the American Board of Family Practice. Tague began his nutrition, weight loss and bariatric medicine practice in 1996.
The Center for Nutrition and Preventive Medicine has medical practice locations in Leawood, KS at 4963 W. 135th Street and in Topeka, KS at 2840 SW Urish Road. For more information, visit TagueNutrition.com
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¹ British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 1995, 40: 237-243 PMCID 1365103
² JAMA, Nov 29, 1976 – Vol 236, No. 22