published Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Ask a doctor

Q: I keep seeing the HCG diet advertised. Does it work?

A: We get asked this a lot. HCG is the hormone secreted by pregnancy. The theory is that pregnancy diverts nutrients to the baby instead of the mother. People say it causes patients to not absorb calories. This sounds great if only it were true. Pregnancy does divert nutrients from the mother to the baby, but without a placenta or a baby, HCG just hasn't been shown to do this. This is an old diet that was largely discredited years ago. In a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, HCG was given to some patients and placebo shots were given to others. All the patients were placed on a very restrictive diet. There was no difference in weight loss, body circumference or even food cravings.

Until we have data to show it actually works, you're better off sticking with the formula of calories in versus calories out.

-- Dr. Ringland S.

Murray Jr., Tennessee

Reproductive Medicine; member,

Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for a medical doctor, e-mail it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com. See this space each week for answers.

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