The Original Research by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons
The research by Dr. Simeons was published in 1954 in his book, ‘Pounds and Inches’, which is widely available at no cost on many websites. He designed his protocol to be very precise regarding the amount of HCG required for injection, for the number of calories and the types foods allowed, and for the optimal duration of the program. He also published a brief synopsis of his program in the British medical journal Lancet (vol. 2, pp. 946-947, 1954).
This weight loss program has attracted considerable attention from the medical community and from people who have undergone treatment. Its popularity is one reason why so many people, including medical doctors, have decided to offer opinions on whether it works. The success of HCG for weight loss has been so great that it has attracted negative attention from the FDA.
Before I go further, I want to note that the FDA is not an agency that serves human health. It is an agency that serves the financial interests of pharmaceutical companies. Negative attention from the FDA almost always means that the health benefits of the treatment in question might undermine drug profits. Indeed, seeing the statement that HCG is not approved by the FDA for weight loss is, in my opinion, support for the effectiveness of this protocol.
The government’s PubMed database lists more than 18,000 journal articles on HCG, with less than a few dozen of these having anything to do with weight loss. Most of the research on this hormone involves fertility, pregnancy, and the detection of cancerous tumors. What I want to do is call your attention to just three studies as examples of the confusion that is rampant in the medical literature on HCG and weight loss.
This study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol. 12, pp. 230-234, 1963), at the height of popularity of the HCG diet plan in the U.S. In my reading of this article, it looks to me as though the researchers behind this study, from the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, followed the Simeons protocol to the letter. There was one exception: the consumption of a baked potato each day, which is not on Simeons’ list of allowed vegetables. The main result of the study was an average loss of 6.5 pounds in the HCG-treated group, compared with an average loss of 8.8 pounds in the untreated (control) group. The authors concluded that the hormone did not cause weight loss.
This study is remarkable for a couple reasons. One is that, in spite of following the Simeons protocol for 40 days, neither the treatment group nor the control group came close to the amount of weight loss that is expected. A starvation diet alone (i.e., 550 calories per day) should have caused more weight loss than reported. In fact, one subject on HCG even gained weight. The other reason that this study is remarkable is that the number of study subjects (i.e., 10 in the treatment group, 9 in the control group) and the variability of the results within each group provided insufficient statistical power to explain anything at all! Indeed, this study offered no comparative statistical analysis of weight loss. In other words, the results did not support any conclusions whatsoever.
Nevertheless, one or more factors are not obvious in this study. Generally when a study has such insignificant results, the subjects were not compliant – i.e., they did not follow the protocol very well. The researchers offered no comment on this possibility, so we will never know why both the treatment group and the control group underperformed.
This study was published 10 years later, also in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol. 26, pp. 211-218, 1963). The researchers who conducted it, at the American Society of Bariatric Physicians Research Council, studied about twice as many subjects as the 1963 study above. The final result was an average loss of 19.96 pounds in the HCG group and 11.05 pounds in the control group. More importantly, the statistical analysis supported this difference as being significant. The conclusion of this study was that HCG did cause weight loss.
1995 Meta Analysis
Meta analysis refers to a comparison of multiple studies on the same topic. This meta analysis was published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (vol. 40, pp. 237-243, 1995) by researchers at Vrije University, Netherlands. They evaluated 16 studies and observed that most of them were of ‘poor methodological quality’ (meaning, bad science). Only one of the 12 articles of acceptable quality showed an effect on weight loss by HCG. The researchers concluded that ‘there is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity’.
Meta analysis studies have become very popular in medicine because of the notion that a trend over multiple studies shows the truth. Unfortunately, the basic rules of statistics invalidate any such comparisons. Moreover, when even one study stands out against the majority, it is wrong to ignore it completely as these researchers have done. It would be much more valuable to figure out why some studies give contradictory results to one another.
This meta analysis also reveals what I call the dirty laundry of medical science – i.e., most research is so flawed that it is almost useless for saying anything at all with certainty. In fact, this is kind of a scary thought, isn’t it?
Take Home Lesson
Human subject research is the most difficult kind of study because of so many variables that are out of the control of the experimental design. Determining cause and effect is almost impossible. Nevertheless, we can see from some research that HCG can and does drive weight loss. My view is that studies that show this result are better in terms of sticking more closely to the Simeons protocol in the experimental design, then having the study subjects adhere closely to it.
What I conclude regarding HCG and weight loss is based on what I have seen for myself. This includes many, many people who have had the same results that Simeons documented based on his clinical experience with thousands of patients. I have also had the same results for myself. There is nothing like personal experience! The key to my experience, however, was monitoring my body fat composition. Weight loss is almost irrelevant by itself. My result was a reduction of 20 pounds AND of 6% body fat in less than 30 days. Reduction in body fat is supposed to be the main effect of HCG.
Medical researchers are apparently going to argue the merits of HCG and weight loss until the end of time, citing whichever research results support their arguments. As a scientist myself, I have no doubt whatsoever that Simeons was right and that my body changes occurred because of HCG.
One More Thing
Early studies on lab animals are now beginning to show that HCG interacts with the hormone leptin. Leptin is the new master fat hormone that has been known only since 1994. Like HCG, leptin also carries a signal to the hypothalamus. I predict that the more we find out about the interaction between these two hormones, the more we will understand how ingenious the Simeons protocol really is.
All the best in natural health,