Certainly not! But unfortunately we need to look a little more closely.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted on hard-core woo, and I miss it, so here’s a little tip for you: if a diet sounds too good to be true, then it is. Weight loss is very hard, unless you are very sick. In fact, a colleague of mine ran into a friend who had lost a lot of weight and said, “You’re OK, aren’t you?” As an internist, when I see dramatic weight loss, my first thought is cancer, not a wildly successful new diet. But all of us overweight types wish there were an easy way.
There isn’t. A friend of mine heard about a diet that involves extreme calorie restriction along with injections of human chorionic gonadotrophic hormone (hCG). My first thought was if you restrict yourself to 500-800 calories per day, it doesn’t matter what you inject—you’re going to lose weight. But as is the usual pattern with woo, each time you try to rebut it, there is a new claim. For example, when you point out that starvation diets will always make you lose weight, they say that this one makes you not hungry. When you say that it sounds dubious, they say that it not only makes you not hungry, it causes you to somehow lose weight where you want it, and keep it where you like it.
So what experts are behind this revolutionary diet? Well, the biggest proponent appears to be Kevin Trudeau, the infomercial guy who keeps going to jail for fraud. What kind of claims is he making?
Now, for the first time in fifty years, this revolutionary breakthrough discovery, which permanently cures the condition of obesity, is being released to the public.
Richard Dawkins has a great statement about claims like this one:
If you are in possession of this revolutionary secret of science, why not prove it and be hailed as the new Newton? Of course, we know the answer. You can’t do it. You are a fake.
Strangely enough, scientists have actually investigated this “miracle cure for obesity”.
Not only is the diet no more effective than calorie restriction alone, the hCG also doesn’t affect hunger or other more subjective factors of dieting.
Look, no one likes being obese, and despite what fake experts like Sandy Szwarc say, it’s bad for you. But there is no magic. To lose weight, energy in has to be less than energy out, and when you do that, you will feel hungry. It sucks, it’s hard, but at this point, it’s all we’ve got.
(Please excuse the unconventional citation format—I’m playing with some new software)
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