I couldn't believe my eyes when I read this article in the February issue of Marie Claire.
Called "the L.A. diet no one is talking about," it was a first-person account of the merits of the HCG diet. I had heard it mentioned before, but didn't really have a concept of how it worked.
Well, now I do. And I'm very, very concerned.
Alison Edmond wrote that she went to a women's gym in California and learned from a woman who was not a registered nurse how to give herself daily injections of the hormone HCG. A month's supply cost her $750. If that doesn't sound crazy enough, the second part of the diet involves eating just 500 calories per day. Who in their right minds would call this healthy?
You'd think Marie Claire would publish this tale because it has an unhappy ending, right? The kind of ending that convinces readers that going on this HCG diet is a very bad idea.
Instead, Alison raves about the results, claiming that after a week of hunger and zero energy, "something shifted. My energy levels soared, my skin was clearer, and the whites of my eyes were whiter. I felt fantastic."
She goes on to brag about losing 25 pounds and her post-pregnancy stomach (at a total cost of $1,250), ending by writing, "I took a chance, and I'm glad I did."
Of course, Marie Claire covers its you-know-what with a sidebar of warnings that the FDA hasn't approved HCG for weight loss, that studies don't indicate that HCG has any effect on weight loss, and that HCG is harvested from pregnant women in various parts of the world, which means injecting it could in theory carry a risk of neurological issues "like mad cow disease."
But that part is sort of like reading the warning label on medication, and it's not listed in the online version of the story at all. The first-person account is the clear focus and I would bet that all kinds of women are searching the web as you read this, trying to figure out how to get their hands on some HCG injections for themselves.
I wasn't the only one appalled by Marie Claire's decision to publish the story (and promote it on the front page of its website).
In the comments of the online version of the story, readers had this to say:
"I read this today and am just appalled that at this magazine. First they attack healthy bloggers, and then they advocate extreme things like HCG. Eating 500 calories per day is NOT healthy, despite whatever things you may be injecting into your body."
"I am appalled that Marie Claire would print such an irresponsible one-sided article. You are basically encouraging women to try an extremely dangerous and unhealthy diet, solely in the name of looking good."
Of course, other commenters claimed that they're on the diet and IT'S WONDERFUL.
But I think this: NO diet that has women subsisting on 500 calories a day is a good idea. The fact that anyone would fall for something like this and abuse their bodies this way makes me really sad. And the fact that Marie Claire would publish this story disappoints me.
What do you think?
Image via Steven Depolo/Flickr