Dangers of the cotton ball diet

Dangers of the cotton ball diet

From the tapeworm diet to the lemonade regimen, it seems like Americans have tried just about every fad imaginable to lose weight.

But just when you thought you’ve heard it all, there’s more. The Internet is now buzzing about a new diet trend that would make even the most adventurous dieters blush. It’s called the cotton ball diet and there are plenty of YouTube and chat rooms online offering up examples on how it works.

They claim all you need is a few cotton balls— (five) appears to be the magic number— and a glass of lemonade, a smoothie or orange juice. The folks touting the diet online say you simply soak the cotton balls in your drink and eat up. They suggest doing this before eating a meal so you end up feeling full faster and limiting your food intake without gaining weight. Others say they simply subsist on the drenched cotton balls alone.

But one diet expert who has been tracking diet trends for more than nine years, Brandi Koskie told ABC News in a recent report that the cotton ball diet is just bad news.

“Nothing good can come of this. Absolutely nothing,” she said.  

Koskie pointed out that one of the biggest dangers is that folks who are trying this diet may not understand that not all cotton balls are created equal. In fact, Koskie noted that unless you’re feasting on an expensive organic brand, the cotton ball may not actually be made of cotton. Many cotton balls are bleached, polyester fibers that contain a lot of chemicals. “Your clothing is also made of polyester, so swallowing a synthetic cotton ball is like dipping your T-shirt in orange juice and eating it,” she said.

So in essence munching on synthetic cotton balls is kind of like eating cloth, coins or even buttons. Physicians also warn that beyond the risk of choking and malnutrition, eating cotton balls could lead to an obstruction of the intestinal tract. This trapped mass called a bezoar can be life-threatening in some cases. 

Experts say this diet fad appears to be more popular among models and teenage girls between ages 9 to 16. And experts who work with people who suffer from eating disorders say the diet is not new. They say eating cotton balls is a form of pica, which is the practice of eating nonfood items.

Either way regardless of why a person may be tempted to eat cotton balls, most professionals agree, it’s a bad idea.

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  1. Thats just insane

  2. That is gross! Why would you want to eat cotton?! No nutritional value whatsoever! Wanting to lose weight is one thing, but to sacrifice nutrition? Yuck!

  3. This is horrible, I feel so sad for people who feel that they need to diet this way to have the “image” that they are seeking.

  4. The thought of eating cotton makes me sick!

  5. It amazes me what lengths people will go to, to stay thin. This is ridiculous!

  6. Try a Whole Foods, Plant Based Diet. Watch “Forks over Knives” and read “The China Study.” It is incomprehensible that humans will consider something like this, before they consider simply eliminating animal protein from their diet for a year.

  7. Blame it on Joseph Heller’s book “Catch-22”. They were selling chocolate covered cotton balls.

  8. Jessika Castillo August 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm · Reply

    Yikes. People are wild.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.