Be careful with diets on social networks: experts

Intermittent fasting or apple mono-diet? Influencers seeking visibility on social media are becoming guinea pigs for the hottest weight-loss diets of the moment, according to experts interviewed by AFP. This is a risky trend that can be deadly.

“You wake up and don’t eat anything at all, then it’s lunch time and then you can go crazy and eat whatever you want!” says a young woman in a TikTok video that has more than 45,000 likes. The footage shows her eating sausages, potatoes and sandwiches after a morning fast.

The French influencer recommends the same technique in combination with an appetite suppressant pill, for which she offers a “promotional code.” A few months earlier, he claimed to have lost 3 kilograms in three days by eating only apples.

“These are diets that are often extreme and seek to attract attention,” complains nutritionist Pierre Azam, founder of the Obesity Observatory in France. Algorithms add to this already perverse system, moving Internet users “from mode X to mode Y,” he notes.

“People, and especially young people, who want to lose weight find themselves between a rock and a hard place with information that is sometimes contradictory or cumulative,” says the doctor.

The practice of overnight intermittent fasting, which consists of a 16-hour gap between dinner and the first meal of the next day, “can be interesting,” according to nutritionist Arnaud Kokol, “but it’s not for everyone.”

“You can’t copy and paste the same stereotypical diet for people who are overweight due to stress or for those on medication,” he notes.

95% of diets fail

Dr. Kokol sees patients every day “who are gaining weight and dieting” and remembers that “95% of diets are doomed to fail after five years,” according to a study by French health authorities. “People regain all the weight they lost.”

“Most diets are based on inhibitions and disappointments, and the body hates that,” he explains.

Kokol prefers the American Weight Watchers program, which is based on a balancing approach to food rather than restriction.

Dr Azam warns against the “derogatory” statements made by some Internet users who are focused solely on “quick, easy, casual” weight loss, in the image of a consumer society, without concern for public health.

“Our body is alive, it is full of proteins,” he emphasizes. With such regimens, there is a risk of “losing lean body mass, which will lead to damage to organ constitution and the development of hormonal imbalances, digestive problems and long-term pathologies,” he warns.

The doctor is also concerned about the impact of this type of speech on vulnerable people who may fall into “anorexic or bulimic tendencies with a tendency towards eating disorders.”

He notes that in the case of excess weight, the first point of contact is the general practitioner, and, if necessary, even a specialist. But above all, doctors are demanding “better nutrition, starting in the first 1,000 days of life and even in the womb.”

jp/fmp/sp/ber/sag/meb © Agence France-Presse


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