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Short-term fix may work, but what happens next?

Posted: November 14, 2011 - 9:59am

The drops or the shots?

If this particular question rings a bell, which it should for many, you are aware of the latest diet trend that is rapidly taking hold across America, and particularly the Kenai Peninsula. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, or HCG as it’s commonly called, is a newly created and practiced diet, that promises of instant weight loss and easy maintainability has attracted skinny seeking clientele everywhere.

So what’s not to love? A promise of about one pound a day weight loss for the duration of the six-week diet by simply taking this magical active ingredient, HCG, following a rather simple set of guidelines written by a well educated and experienced doctor. Sounds like the miracle, quick and easy solution to being overweight to me.

But several other “appealing” characteristics of the diet, for example the “no exercise” rule or the “stuff yourself silly” two-day period at the beginning of the diet, seem to be immediate red flags to any health conscious critic, or potential customer.

Many tactics can accomplish weight loss; and eating a healthy, balanced diet as well as exercising is the most common and proven way to reach a certain goal and maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as weight. So when two things, such as a “500 calorie a day” food consumption and “no exercise” rule are the first requirements of this trendy, miracle cure, there shouldn’t be any surprise that most health-conscious reviewers have dismissed the diet entirely.

But I’m not interested in detracting interest in something that has proven to be successful for some clients; I simply want to a highlight a more recent issue that has spawned from this hot new diet. When I was first aware such a thing existed, whether it was healthy or not, wasn’t my concern and I commended those taking the first steps to lose weight, seeing HCG as more of a jump-start program than anything. However my familiarity with the diet gradually increased over the past few years, and not only was I hearing critiques and testimonials on the news and from adults across the community, but in the halls and classrooms of my high school, a place I’d never think to go for insight and information on such a topic.

At first it was simply comments here and there about parents and older siblings who had practiced or completed the HCG diet that rang throughout the school, but soon the comments were not only of relative experience, but also of actual customers and users of the HCG diet. A school of ninth- to 12th-grade students, ages from 14 to 18, was supplying me with not only a few stories of their “encounter” with the diet, but a good group of students, and teachers, who had more knowledge than I’d ever expect.

My concern isn’t related to the amount of knowledge my fellow students have, because we all share an ability to be very informed on certain interesting subjects, as you’ll find in most high schools, but the fact that such an outrageous diet was their ultimate option for weight loss. High school can be cruel, and speaking from personal experience, relentless bullying and teasing has been present from day one, particularly targeted at those with society’s view as less than desirable physical appearances, so when something such as HCG comes about and promises this consistent daily weight loss at the end of one or more cycles, I’m not surprised this “easy fix” was the chosen diet by students.

But what happens on day 43? The habits and now basic lifestyle of the student, a 500 calorie a day diet, no need for exercise, strict regulatory guidelines and more importantly a daily intake of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, whether in shot or drop form, concludes. The rules have subsided with the completion, and the tempting, glutinous food that were forbidden are now available in any quantity. Habits such as eating a very limited diet, excluding all dairy products as well as carbohydrates (two vital food groups), limiting fruits and proteins strictly, and encouraging the heavy use of Stevia and other replacement ingredients, are almost always reverted.

This can do one of two things, either allow for all the forbidden foods to be consumed at a more rapid rate than before, or habitual use of supplements/replacement ingredients and avoidance of the key food groups that I mentioned prior. You lost a pound a day because you ate 1/3 of the calories you are supposed to consume normally. That’s the reality people need to consider when completing the diet and either complaining about instantly gaining weight back or wondering where to go from here. No healthy habits were taught, and no maintainability is practical when you wake up on day 43 and leave your HCG supplement as is, on your nightstand beside you. 

Like I’ve said, success and weight loss is absolutely possible with this diet, but the next step is what most overlook when choosing HCG, and in particular, students, of my age and younger, feeling that at this point no other options are legitimate but HCG. An age where habits are formed, healthy or otherwise, and lifestyles begin to take shape.

I wouldn’t have such opinions and concerns on a topic normally, and personal choice is something I’ve advocated as long as I can remember, however my relation to HCG has recently increased, as I share classes and hallways with participants, as well as close friendships. When health and learning, growing and surviving in a world we might not be quite ready for is at stake, we must consider the vulnerability and lack of “real world” preparation the HCG diet contains.   

Brooke Hughes is a senior at Skyview High School.

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