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Dangers of Fad Diets and Why They Should Be Avoided

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“In 2007, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), reviewed 31 long-term studies lasting between 2 to 5 years and concluded that at least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within four or five years, and the true number may well be significantly higher” (‘Why Don’t Fad Diets Work?’). Fad diets are popular eating plans that help many individuals rapidly lose weight. Some examples of these diets are the Atkins diet, the ketogenic diet, and the paleo diet. The lose-weight-quick initiative is motivating people of all ages. However, most of these hot new diets really are too good to be true. Fad diets that omit certain food groups are not a safe weight loss method and should be avoided.

Fad diets such as the ketogenic diet provide temporary results that are difficult to manage long term. The keto diet is a high-carb low-fat diet that helps dieters rapidly lose weight in an unhealthy way. After finishing the diet, many will gain most of the weight back within a year. “Some people develop a pattern called ‘yo-yo’ or weight cycling, which is losing weight, gaining weight, and then losing it again. They repeat this pattern for many years” (‘Why Don’t Fad Diets Work?’). This cycling of weight makes it pointless for individuals to continue doing this fad diet for long. Diets like these make losing weight easy, but it is not fat that is being lost. Taylor Wolfram is a registered dietitian, she explains how this works, “If you lose weight quickly, you’ll lose muscle, bone and water. You also will be more likely to regain the pounds”. Most people have heard the phrase ‘quality over quantity’, and that goes for weight loss too. Proper weight loss and weight maintenance is a much healthier alternative to fad diets.

Fad diets are often too good to be true and can cause long term health concerns. Research has shown that fad diets can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms such as dehydration, weakness and fatigue, nausea and headaches, constipation, and lack of essential vitamins and minerals. As well as short term issues, fad diets can also cause serious long term health concerns, such as osteoporosis and anemia. “Because fad diets cut out certain food items or whole food groups, the dieter doesn’t get enough of certain vitamins and minerals. That can lead to anemia (not enough iron in the blood), or osteoporosis, a condition that makes bones break easily” (Varda Epstein). Researchers have shown that many dieters will gain back even more weight than they were to start with which puts them more at risk for heart issues. The article ‘Are Fad Diets Safe?’ explains what foods can cause heart issues: “Many low-carbohydrate diets allow you to eat foods high in saturated fat, such as butter, cheese and meat. Too much saturated fat can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke”. It is clear that losing weight quickly does that outweigh the health concerns brought on by these diets.

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Eliminating certain food groups or important macronutrients can often cause malnutrition. Varda Epstein explains how fad diets are especially unsafe for teenagers: “Teens are still growing. Fad dieting often means cutting out foods or food groups that give teens the nutrients they need to grow”. Without proper nutrition and dieting teens will not get the vitamins and minerals they need to grow. A lack of nutrients needed can cause a variety of problems. Shereen Lehman addresses the issue: “Fad diets are bad because they don’t address the problems that caused you to gain weight in the first place. Once you’re through with the fad diet, you’ll probably gain the weight back as you reestablish old eating habits. Fad diets are also bad because they usually require the elimination of foods that aren’t bad for you, which can result in nutritional deficiencies”. This is a common issue for many first-time dieters. Many see all the advertising, saying that it will be easy to lose weight quickly, which interests them. However, they do not see the health concerns that come along with it.

Losing a lot of weight quickly without training or exercise seems like a luxury. Taylor Wolfram says, “If you lose weight quickly, you’ll lose muscle, bone and water. You also will be more likely to regain the pounds. Instead, focus on eating in a way that helps you feel nourished, satisfied and energized”. The lack of needing to workout is what makes fad diets so unhealthy and not practical. Wolfram goes on to say, “Regular physical activity is essential for good health. The key to success is to find physical activities that you enjoy and then aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days of the week”. Combining a healthy diet along with regularly exercising is the only way to lose weight effectively and most importantly, keep the weight off.

It is clear that fad diets should not be used to rapidly lose weight. Diets that propose easy weight loss do not outweigh the many health concerns such as malnutrition and heart issues. Fad diets are often difficult to manage long term, they do not provide healthy habits that are easy to maintain. Dieting is an important part of losing weight, so choosing the correct diet is very important. Diets should be personal to each individual and should not leave out main food groups. Fad diets should be avoided so that losing weight is both healthy and balanced.

Works Cited

  1. ‘Are Fad Diets Safe?’. Croi Heart & Stroke Charity, 17 Aug. 2017, http://croi.ie/are-fad-diets-safe
  2. Epstein, Varda. ‘Fad Diets and Teens: 8 Reasons Fad Diets Seriously Suck’. Smarter Parenting, 18 July 2016, www.kars4kids.org/blog/parenting/teens/8-reasons-fad-diets-seriously-suck
  3. ‘Fad Diets Are Bad Diets’. American Council on Science and Health, 2 July 2018, www.acsh.org/news/2018/07/02/fad-diets-are-bad-diets-13134
  4. Lehman, Shereen. ‘Why Fad Diets Are Bad and How to Avoid Them’. Verywell Fit, Verywell Fit, 24 June 2019, www.verywellfit.com/why-fad-diets-suck-2506638
  5. ‘Weight Loss and Fad Diets’. Better Health Channel, Department of Health & Human Services, 31 Aug. 2011, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/weight-loss-and-fad-diets
  6. ‘Why Don’t Fad Diets Work?’. LiveScience, Purch, www.livescience.com/32742-why- dont-fad-diets-work.html
  7. Wolfram, Taylor. ‘Staying Away from Fad Diets’. EatRight, www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/staying-away-from-fad-diets

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Dangers of Fad Diets and Why They Should Be Avoided. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/dangers-of-fad-diets-and-why-they-should-be-avoided/
“Dangers of Fad Diets and Why They Should Be Avoided.” Edubirdie, 31 Jan. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/dangers-of-fad-diets-and-why-they-should-be-avoided/
Dangers of Fad Diets and Why They Should Be Avoided. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/dangers-of-fad-diets-and-why-they-should-be-avoided/> [Accessed 30 May 2023].
Dangers of Fad Diets and Why They Should Be Avoided [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Jan 31 [cited 2023 May 30]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/dangers-of-fad-diets-and-why-they-should-be-avoided/
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