Despite calls that it's unsafe and unsustainable, the popularity of the injectable hCG diet continues to peak and trough. Eugenie Kelly looks at why it won't go away.
Many women will relate to 39-year-old Rachel's* morning ritual. 6am: wake; stretch; whip up a protein smoothie; coerce kids out of bed. But here it gets what some might perceive as hairy. At 6.30am, she quietly slips into her bathroom and injects herself in the stomach, with a prescription-only twice-daily hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) derived from the urine of pregnant women that allows her to exist on 500 calories a day.
The theory that hCG could help people lose weight was pioneered by a British endocrinologist, Dr. Albert TW Simeons, in the 1950s, with the treatment peaking in popularity in the '70s. Criticism from the medical fraternity that supposedly misunderstood the strict conditions it came with (more on that later) saw it being discredited, thus it waned in popularity.
Around 2010, in the US, sales of a homeopathic version (drops placed under the tongue; lozenges; and sprays) were newly rampant. But once women realised the health implications of not having it professionally monitored, they turned to doctors whose clinics lent it an aura of respectability, some charging a whopping USD1,300 a month at the time for the injections and dietary advice.
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