There are tons of diet pill pages on the internet prosthelytizing the wonders of the miracle diet drug HCG, or “human chorionic gonadotropin.” You have the usual “before” and “after” pictures where you get to play that fun game of trying to figure out if they’re actually two different people, and the promises of losing 30 pounds in 4 weeks. Only problem is that HCG doesn’t work for weight loss, and an FDA exec says they may even be illegal and fraudulent. Quelle surprise!
HCG is a hormone made by the placenta and it got its cachet as a potential weight loss drog back in the 50’s when a doctor hypothesized that it could help people on really low-calorie diets, around 500 calories, not feel hunger pains. However, randomized controlled studies have shown it’s no better than a sugar pill in this respect.
That hasn’t stopped snake oil salesman from trying to cash in and some of them slap on a “homeopathic” label. But it’s not in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia and so the FDA doesn’t recognize it as a homeopathic drug. “So they are unapproved drugs and are illegal,” Elizabeth Miller, the FDA’s team leader on internet and health fraud, told USA Today. The drugs are also not approved for weight loss.
The only saving grace is that HCG hasn’t been shown to cause any serious direct or indirect health hazards. The greatest danger is to your wallet – bottles of the pills can be found on the shelves at $70 an ounce.