Reporting Stephanie Stahl
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Agnes Ogletree is happy her favorite jacket doesn’t fit anymore. She’s lost 28 pounds. The first 20 came off in five weeks.
“It’s just been exciting for me,” said Agnes. She has been on the HCG diet. HCG is a synthetic form of a pregnancy hormone. For decades it was only available as an injection. But that didn’t scare Kelly Vaughn.
“It’s unbelievable. I’ve lost 40 pounds. The first three weeks I lost 15 pounds,” said Kelly.
Now HCG is available in pill form, dissolved under the tongue.
“It seemed too good to be true at first,” said Dr. Marshall Sager, who offers the HCG pill to patients in his Bala Cynwyd office. He says there’s a body of evidence showing HCG reduces hunger, so people can stick to consuming only 500 calories a day. And it’s also supposed to burn fat more efficiently.
“It mobilizes those fat stores that usually aren’t mobilized, and that’s the kind of weight that you want to lose when you’re on a diet,” said Dr. Sager.
“I’m not hungry, and I’m thinner, which is so great,” said Agnes.
But the FDA has said HCG doesn’t work for weight loss, hunger control, or burning fat.
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And the FDA says the HCG diet could be dangerous increasing the risk for blood clots, depression and headaches.
“Honestly, I think it’s a complete scam,” said Dr. Anna Headly, an Internist at Cooper University Hospital. She says studies have shown that HCG is a fraud, and consuming only 500 calories a day is dangerous.
“That’s not a safe calorie restriction. So people will lose weight if they actually do this, but it’s not because of the HCG,” said Dr. Headly.
Stephanie Stahl asked Dr. Sager, “What do you say to the critics who say this diet is not safe? That it’s not safe to have just 500 calories a day?”
He replied, “I don’t know why they say it’s unsafe. I think it’s because of ignorance. They don’t understand the diet.”
Dr. Sager says his HCG tablets are specially made and include b-vitamins, a formulation that has not been specifically criticized by the FDA.
He combines the pills with a form of acupuncture that puts a tiny post in the ear, a hunger point. He says when stimulated it can improve weight loss, and it increases the well being of the patient.
Agnes says it’s not easy, but it works. She’s found the way to be 50 pounds lighter for her 50-th birthday in August.
“I am in my best mental state and my best physical shape ever in my life,” said Agnes.
Dr. Sager charges $1100 for 40 days of the HCG diet, which is also available to men.
HCG is FDA approved to treat infertility, but doctors like Dr. Sager are legally able to use it off label for other treatments.
But the FDA says over-the-counter forms of HCG are unapproved new drugs and illegal.
Dr. Marshall Sager – http://www.doctorsager.com/
Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3