BHP advises on fad diets, unsafe weight-loss tips

HEALTH RISKS::The bureau said that weight loss is best achieved steadily for health reasons, adding that drugs and drastic dieting could cause major complications

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Feb 19, 2013 - Page 4

As many people tend to gain weight over the winter and especially during the Lunar New Year holiday, the Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP) yesterday said that people should opt for healthy ways to lose weight to avoid harming their bodies.

There is no shortcut to losing weight, and many drugs, diets or other approaches that claim to have “immediate effects” should not be trusted, the bureau said, adding that inappropriate weight-loss methods may carry health risks and the best way to lose weight is through a balanced diet and exercise.

The bureau said that inappropriate diets or long-term reduction in food intake will deprive the body of nutrition and reduce the body’s basal metabolic rate, leading to low immunity and weight-loss results that are difficult to maintain.

It listed possible shortcomings of several weight-loss methods, such as fasting diets, which may lead to malnutrition, loss of muscle tissue and could harm the kidneys and brain; low-carbohydrate diets that could cause ketoacidosis or even death from electrolyte imbalance; extremely low-fat and low-calorie diets that result in the loss of necessary fatty acids and decreased lipid-soluble vitamin absorption and muscle wastage.

In addition, illegal weight-loss supplements often contain ingredients such as amphetamines, laxatives, diuretics or thyrotropin that have side-effects, including headaches, excitement, insomnia, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, arrhythmias and may even result in death, it said.

As for products such as weight-loss creams, fat-reducing massage sticks or dieting corsets, the bureau said that these products may cause skin allergies or dermatitis, and tight clothing can cause poor circulation or pressure sores.

The bureau also said that people who use traditional Chinese medicine to lose weight should follow the instructions of professional medical experts, and watch out for inappropriate acupuncture procedures that may lead to allergic reactions or infections.

Losing weight should benefit people’s health, not their perceived beauty, it said, adding that maintaining a healthy body weight can help prevent chronic diseases.

However, becoming underweight could lead to irregular menstrual cycles, difficulties conceiving, poor physical strength, anemia and osteoporosis, it said.