Friday, June 11, 2010

The hCG Diet- Is it A Quackery?

Article written by Lara Veazey, MA/RD/LD, CPT written for Edmond Active magazine

As a Registered Dietitian in private practice, I have had numerous questions from clients about this new HCG Diet trend so I decided to research for myself to see what the buzz is all about.

What exactly is hCG?
hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women to help the body bring nutrients into the placenta, fueling the fetus to provide energy for the fetus to grow. It is approved by FDA for treatment of certain problems of the male reproductive system and in stimulating ovulation in women who have had difficulty becoming pregnant. No evidence has been presented, however, to substantiate claims for hCG as a weight-loss aid.” via the FDA

hCG and the Weight Loss Claim:
The hCG diet was first invented by Dr. Simeons in the 1950’s and re-born in Kevin Trudeau’s weight loss book. Dr. Simeons contended that hCG injections would enable dieters to subsist comfortably on a 500-calorie-a-day diet. He claimed that hCG would mobilize stored fat; suppress appetite; and redistribute fat from the waist, hips, and thighs. According to the hCG weight loss claim, you can expect to lose up to 1-3 pounds per day.

hCG Diet and the Truth behind these weight loss claims:
A 500-calorie (semi-starvation) diet and combining the shots of the hCG hormone is extremely dangerous and likely to result in dangerous adverse side effects such as; loss of protein from vital organs, life-threatening blood clots, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, birth defects, and many others. Furthermore, 500-calories per day is severely restrictive for anyone. In fact, it is not enough calories to support normal brain function. Your body will compensate by using stores of glycogen, protein (muscle) and some fat, which lowers your resting metabolic rate and can make it extremely difficult to maintain the quick weight loss which can increase the chances of gaining the weight back over time.

There is no scientific evidence to support these claims. In addition, these injections have not been approved by the FDA for use in weight loss. In fact, the FDA has required that all labeling and advertising of hCG must state the following: “hCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”

Bottom Line:
The general consensus among medical and health professionals regarding the hCG diet is that it is both ineffective and dangerous. The hCG diet is essentially an expensive and extremely risky starvation diet. Following any sort of starvation diet will put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies and serious health complications.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is and always remember to do your research before starting any type of weight loss program. Weight loss is hard work and it won’t come in a potion, pill, or injection. There is no magic bullet and the key to sustained weight loss is creating lifelong behavior habits focusing on health and disease prevention. Seek a registered dietitian and personal trainer to help you come up with an individualized nutrition and fitness plan to meet your goals. Also, consult with your physician before starting any type of exercise or diet plan.

Lara Veazey's Lifelong Weight Loss Tips:

1. “Stop dieting because DIET means restriction. For sustained weight loss, you must make lifelong behavior changes. Listen to your body’s hunger cues and provide your body with healthy options. Instead of trying to just eat diet foods and low-calorie items, focus on eating healthy nutrient rich food to fuel your body for energy and try to shoot for a protein and fruit or vegetable with fiber at every meal.

”2. “Accountability is key for weight loss. Start tracking your calories by keeping a food diary and exercise journal.”

3. “Planning is key. Plan out your meals and snacks at the beginning of each week and make a grocery list with your meal plan. Always eat breakfast every morning and eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar in control and to prevent out-of-control hunger and snacking.”

4. “Adding an exercise plan along with eating healthy is very important for weight loss. Exercise should be performed on most if not all days of the week. Include cardiovascular, strength training, and stretching in your exercise plan. Exercise goal should be a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity of any cardiovascular activity most days of the week at 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Also, get off the couch and get active and increase your non-exercise activity such as cleaning the house, walking the dog, taking the stairs, playing outside with your kids, etc. It all counts.”

5. “Portion control is crucial. Measure out portions frequently and use smaller plates. When dining out, split meals with a friend or ask to have half of your meal bagged up.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

TV Food Advertisements Promote Imbalanced Diets

According to New Study Published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association

CHICAGO – Making food choices based on television advertising results in a very imbalanced diet according to a new study comparing the nutritional content of food choices influenced by television to nutritional guidelines published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Investigators found that a 2,000-calorie diet consisting entirely of advertised foods would contain 25 times the recommended servings of sugars and 20 times the recommended servings of fat, but less than half of the recommended servings of vegetables, dairy, and fruits. In fact, the excess of servings in sugars and fat is so large that, on average, eating just one of the observed food items would provide more than three times the recommended daily servings (RDS) for sugars and two and a half times the RDS for fat for the entire day.

“The results of this study suggest the foods advertised on television tend to oversupply nutrients associated with chronic illness (eg, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium) and undersupply nutrients that help protect against illness (eg, fiber, vitamins A, E, and D, calcium, and potassium),” according to lead investigator Michael Mink, PhD, Assistant Professor and MPH Program Coordinator, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, GA.

Researchers analyzed 84 hours of primetime and 12 hours of Saturday morning broadcast television over a 28-day period in 2004. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC were sampled on a rotating basis to develop a complete profile of each network. The Saturday-morning cartoon segment (from 8:00 am to 11:00 am) was included to capture food advertisements marketed primarily to children.

All 96 hours of observations were videotaped and reviewed later to identify food advertisements and specific food items being promoted. Only food items that were clearly promoted for sale during an advertisement were recorded. Each food item was then analyzed for nutritional content. Observed portion sizes were converted to the number of servings.

The article indicates that the observed food items fail to comply with Food Guide Pyramid recommendations in every food group except grains. The average observed food item contained excessive servings of sugars, fat, and meat and inadequate servings of dairy, fruit and vegetables. The situation was similar for essential nutrients, with the observed foods oversupplying eight nutrients: protein, selenium, sodium, niacin, total fat, saturated fat, thiamin and cholesterol. These same foods undersupplied 12 nutrients: iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, potassium, pantothenic acid, fiber, and vitamin D.

The authors advocate nutritional warnings for imbalanced foods similar to those mandated on direct-to-consumer drug advertisements. They recommend investigating health promotion strategies that target consumers, the food industry, public media, and regulation focusing on a three-pronged approach.

“First, the public should be informed about the nature and extent of the bias in televised food advertisements. Educational efforts should identify the specific nutrients that tend to be oversupplied and undersupplied in advertised foods and should specify the single food items that surpass an entire day’s worth of sugar and fat servings. Second, educational efforts should also provide consumers with skills for distinguishing balanced food selections from imbalanced food selections. For example, interactive websites could be developed that test a participant’s ability to identify imbalanced food selections from a list of options. This type of game-based approach would likely appeal to youth and adults. Third, the public should be directed to established nutritional guidelines and other credible resources for making healthful food choices.”

The article is “Nutritional Imbalance Endorsed by Televised Food Advertisements” by Michael Mink, PhD, Alexandra Evans, PhD, Charity G. Moore, PhD, Kristine S. Calderon, PhD, CHES, and Shannon Cosgrove, MPH, CHES. It appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 110, Issue 6 (June 2010) published by Elsevier.