Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Free Enterprise: Free of Scruples

"I'm quite disappointed and amazed that even in my neighbourhood they actually have billboards on the street advertising weight-loss injections."
"This is to me totally unscrupulous."
Dr. David Lau, endocrinologist, University of Calgary

"Obesity is the greatest silent killer in Canada."
"Our goal is to not mislead the public; our goal is to be cutting-edge leaders in combating obesity."
Dr. Tony Bruno, medical director, Slimwell

"It sounded like I'm just going to get this injection and all this weight is going to fall off me."
"It sounded like you didn't have to do anything else."
"[Then the "alarming" detail; weight-loss participants with Slimwell are permitted only 500 calories a day]."
Stephanie Moston, nutritionist, Calgaryslimwell_injections
Fancy that, even a nutritionist, someone who specialized in nutrition studies at an academic institution and presumably knows a thing or two about the role that overeating and questionable nutritional dietary choices play in people's never-ending hate-love affair with food and gaining weight, viewing herself as having gained a few too many extra pounds, visualized herself losing it all efficiently and without effort by signing up to be a Slimwell client. Then backed out at the prospect of eating a mere subsistence diet of 500 calories a day while on the program.

It goes without emphasizing too strongly that one can only subsist on 500 calories intake on a daily basis and then, obviously for a strictly limited amount of time. And such a starvation diet in and of itself would, of course, guarantee substantial weight loss, rather swiftly. Think about it: if the average daily recommended calorie intake for good health for a male is 2,500 and for a woman 2,000 calories, that 500 calories a day doesn't even fulfill the barest minimum nutritional requirements for healthy people.

But Calgary-based Slimwell knows human nature, always looking for the easy way to solve a problem. And so their public relations emphasize that they have cornered the market on easy weight loss through a  hormone to be injected to curb hunger while preserving muscle tissue, as all that unsightly fat just seeps away as waste. Their prescription hormone medicine , human chorionic gonadotroin (HCG) is, in fact, a medically debunked failure for weight loss.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with American obesity doctors warn against its use. The hormone shots, injecting clients with what is essentially a pregnancy hormone, is useless. Anyone wanting to lose weight the Slimwell way need only confine their dietary uptake to 500 calories daily and then watch themselves become skeletal and their goal would be accomplished. Slimwell is now under investigation by Health Canada.

A Google Street View of the Slimwell clinic in Calgary. Google Street View / Screengrab

The company has clinics in Calgary and in Markham, Ontario, and to make access to their marvellous remedy for ungainly, unsightly, unhealthy weight gain convenient, takes mail-orders for their misleading prescription drug derived from the urine of pregnant women. HCG is, in fact, approved as a fertility treatment, a product whose monograph states that it should not be used in weight loss treatment. And, as such, the use of HCG for a medically non-approved purpose is illegal.

This is an industry, and it is not only Slimwell that preys on people wanting to lose weight, but many other weight loss clinics as well. "Bluntly, the data says it's useless and the policies say don't [use it] -- at least [they do] in the United States", commented Ottawa-based obesity expert, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, alluding to the fact that Health Canada, while taking action against purveyors of the diet, has not yet issued a blanket statement denying the use of HCG for obesity.

The medical director of Slimwell contends that his company offers a new, advanced version of the diet, through the addition of medical supports and diets designed to target individual needs, and which evidence collected by his company supports their contention that what results is cutting fat but not muscle, reducing the "perception" of hunger. Many clients, he emphasized, post testimonials on the company's website, lauding the diet.

A meta-analysis dated 2995 of research came to the conclusion that HCG "does not bring about weight-loss or fat-redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being". The American Society of Bariatric Physicians came to the same conclusion in 2009. The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons brought in a regulation that doctors should not prescribe HCG for weight loss, back in 1987. But, it's back in fashion.

Slimwell's website features a protocol of daily injections of HCG along with vitamins B6 and B12 for periods of between 23 to 40 days Costs of the programs go up to $825. All a prospective client requires is a note from a doctor informing that they need to lose weight, to enable them to apply to be taken on as clients. And these weight loss clinics that advertise in all media venues are doing very well indeed, thank you.

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