HOUSTON Under agreements negotiated by the Texas Attorney Generals Office, several weight-loss clinics and a distributor must significantly alter the way they market the HCG Diet to Texans.

The HCG Diet is a crash diet that involves limiting one s food intake to a scant 500 calories a day and receiving injections of chorionic gonadatropin (HCG), a prescription hormone normally used to treat fertility issues.

Though the HCG Diet has been around in some form for more than 60 years, it has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity.

All of the clinics involved in the agreement with the Texas AG s Office have marketed HCG for weight loss, despite the fact that the FDA has never approved it as a weight-loss drug.

The distributor, Professional Health Products Southwest, advertised and sold a homeopathic version of HCG as a weight loss product, which was also not approved by the FDA, the AG s Office said.

The AG s Office said that while doctors are generally allowed to prescribe medicines and other products for non-FDA-approved purposes, drugs cannot be marketed or advertised for a use that has not been approved by the FDA.

Physicians and weight-loss clinics may not advertise HCG for weight loss, in part because the FDA has stated there is no substantial evidence indicating that HCG leads to weight loss, beyond that which stems from severe dieting, the AG s Office said in a press release Thursday, adding that there are also no FDA-approved homeopathic or over-the-counter HCG products.

HCG is primarily intended to treat testicular and ovarian abnormalities.

Despite the warnings, some dieters swear by the program, insisting that the hormone injections cause the body to use stored fat for fuel while keeping hunger pangs at bay.

The AG s Office said the following clinics have agreed to stop advertising HCG for weight loss: Biohealth of Texas, Weight Control of Texas, Gulf Coast Plastic Surgery, Dragon s Breath Massage and Optimum Health Care.

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