An Addendum: Use Of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) For Weight Loss

Yesterday I wrote an entry on the use of hCG for weight reduction.  Here I want to add a few things about the post and tell you about 2 interesting articles on obesity.  First, regarding my comments about the hCG craze, I want to make clear that I was not trying to be critical about “alternative” medicine, just quackery.  I will be the first to admit that the scientific method has its limitations; many studies of this and that have either “proven” a benefit or lack of benefit for a particular treatment or procedure, where later studies have truly proven the opposite.  So, all of us (health care professionals and consumers) must maintain both a healthy optimism and skepticism about medical procedures and therapies that seem on the fringe.  Don’t get me wrong, I think use of hCG (either homeopathic drops or injections of the real stuff), is a really bad idea as a method to treat obesity.

Changing the subject a bit, I want to call your attention to two interesting articles.  The first, published today in the New York Times on-line (I suspect it will make it into the hard-copy paper in the next day or so).  The article was entitled “Hoping to Avoid the Knife,” and written by Andrew Pollack.  The article reported that the “scar-less” weight loss surgery technique developed by Satiety, Inc., turned out to be a bust and venture capitalists who put $86 million dollars into the project have pulled out of the project.  The idea was to avoid all the problems with general anesthesia and scars that come with traditional stomach shrinkage procedures used for weight reduction (e.g., gastric-bypass, lap-banding) and cut costs.  Anyway, apparently, the study results were not so hot.  What I found interesting about the article, other than the bad news for Satiety, Inc., was the long discussion about the current state of things with all types of surgical procedures for weight reduction.

The second article was published today the New England Journal of Medicine and is entitled “Obesity Prevalence in the United States- Up, Down, or Sideways.”  The article was written by Susan and Jack Yanovski and although it is an editorial, is a beautiful summary of the various recent data sets that have examined the prevalence of obesity in the U.S.  There are some differences in the data among the various data sets; one can debate whether the prevalence of obesity has stabilized or is still increasing but two things are clear.  First, the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. is astonishingly high and this poses a serious health threat.  Second, even if the overall prevalence is not increasing, the percentage of people with extreme obesity (BMI equal or greater than 40) is climbing steadily.  The authors offer a very interesting discussion about what we should do about the problem.  I highly recommend that you read the article.

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