HCG Diet and Teens

The HCG diet promises fast weight loss, but many doctors and scientists say it does not work. Teens may need to be especially wary of very low calorie diets like the HCG diet because it can have dangerous side effects for them. Keep reading for more on HCG diet and teens.


The HCG diet is based on the idea of eating a very low calorie diet, as little as 500 calories per day, while taking injections of the human pregnancy hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is created by the placenta and excreted in pregnant women's urine. According to the diet's inventor, a 1930s doctor named A. Simeons, the hormone helps to repress the person's appetite and overcome the effects of eating very few calories each day, such as feeling faint or shaky. Many studies over the years, however, have shown that the hormone has no positive effect on dieters, and that any weight that is lost with the HCG diet is due to the extremely low calorie diet.

HCG Diet and Teens - Very low calorie diets carry a variety of risks, especially for teens:

  • They are hard to stick with, so teens may end up breaking the diet frequently and getting discouraged or depressed
  • The diets force a person's body to lose a lot of water weight, which is gained right back as soon as the person takes in more calories, which can also be discouraging
  • They can cause dehydration
  • By depriving their body of calories, most teens do not get the nutrients they need while their body is still developing, leading to an imbalance of minerals or malnutrition
  • Very low calorie diets can cause damage to muscles and organs, especially if used over a long period of time
  • Most weight loss products, including HCG, have not been well tested on teens, so they may have unknown side effects
  • Very low calorie diets may lead to eating disorders, which can be deadly for teens

In addition to these concerns, the HCG injections can be expensive, and are often purchased over the Internet, which is a risky source for buying drugs because buyers don’t really know what they’re getting. Most doctors will not provide HCG shots because they are not FDA approved for weight loss, and in fact are supposed to carry a warning to that effect.

Another important risk to consider with the HCG diet is the increased chance of girls getting pregnant if they are sexually active while taking the HCG shots, because the shots are sometimes used for fertility.

While diets like the HCG diet often appeal to teens because they seem like a fast and easy way to lose weight, most lasting weight loss is a result of long-term lifestyle changes that include healthy eating and teen exercise. Teens who are considering a diet like the HCG diet should talk to the doctor, about the HGC diet and teens, before taking any special supplements or eating a very low calorie diet.

Sources:

Elena Conis, Los Angeles Times, "HCG Diet was largely discredited long ago" [online]
Kathleen M. Zelman, WebMD Expert Review of "The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don’t Want You to Know About" [online]
Dr. Stephen Barrett, Quackwatch, Diet Scam Watch, "HCG Worthless as Weight-Loss Aid" [online]
Nemours, TeensHealth, "5 Ways to Spot a Fad Diet" [online]
University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, "Fad Diets" [online]

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