The Cotton Ball Diet is exactly that: Eating cotton balls to feel full with a goal of losing weight.
It sounds dangerous, but a search online finds videos of young people doing it!
Eddie Murphy's model daughter, Bria Murphy, talked about this extreme form of dieting in the modeling industry. She told Good Morning America that she's heard of people eating cotton balls with orange juice to help them feel full.
Fairwinds Eating Disorder Program Manager Kourtney Gordon says this "fad" of dieting can lead to a more severe case of eating disorders, which could eventually lead to death.
She says, "The problem being that taking the non-nutritive foods in you're not getting the vitamins, the minerals, the calories, the proteins, the fats that our bodies need to survive off of. So you can have a lot of growth and development issues, you can have complications of being malnourished."
Swallowing cotton balls can also lead to digestive complications.
Lauri Wright, PhD, a registered dietician and assistant professor at USF College of Public Health says there are real physical concerns.
Dr. Wright says, "It can actually stay in the stomach or in the intestines and cause blockage. And could actually permanently damage the intestines."
She says pressures to look certain ways that are not obtainable push teens into eating disorders. She says, "There are not any quick fixes. Unfortunately, when you have these extreme diets what you'll lose first is fluid, so you lose water weight and then you lose muscle. The fat is the last component you pull from, which is what people ultimately want to get rid of, but when you do these extreme diets that the last thing it's pulled from."
The Cotton Ball Diet is a trend both experts say they hope fades quickly. "Long term complications of that we have no clue what that's going to do and even in the short term because it can lead to much more severe eating behaviors in those high risk groups. It's just not even worth trying."
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