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Getting the Skinny on Fad Diets

It’s a popular time of year for people to turn to fad diets, as we begin considering New Year’s resolutions or looking for a way to shed the holiday pounds that inevitably creep on.

However, it’s not always easy to sort out which diets are effective, and which ones actually could be harmful to your health. To help educate the public, third-year College of Pharmacy students at NEOMED will offer informational presentations on many popular fad diets, comparing them with medically approved diets , in an event from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Dec. 12, in Rooms 2011-2020 of the NEOMED Education and Wellness (NEW) Center. The presentations will be in an open-house format, meaning that visitors are welcome to come and go as their schedules permit. The event is free and open to the public.

To prepare for the presentations, pharmacy students have worked with faculty members of the College of Pharmacy, including Fady Abdlrasul, Pharm. D. (’14), assistant professor of pharmacy practice. We sat down with Dr. Abdlrasul to learn more about fad diets.

Why do fad diets appeal to us?

The incidence of obesity has soared since the 1960s due to a number of factors: more desk jobs, larger portions of fast food, more sedentary lifestyles, etc. Fad diets are appealing to many due to the fact that some of them can truly offer extreme weight loss in a short period of time.

What is a common misconception about fad diets?

Fad diets are oftentimes viewed as completely safe and harmless. The truth is that most fad diets eliminate entire food groups or limit the amount of certain nutrients. This can be extremely harmful. The major macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) all play vital roles in our overall health and are essential to our diets.

What are some of the strangest fad diets you have encountered?

One of the more extreme cases I have encountered is called “the cotton ball” diet, in which people actually swallow cotton balls. The cotton balls give the person a feeling of fullness, so they don’t want  to eat as much. Obviously, cotton balls do not provide any nutrients and can cause major gastrointestinal problems.

Another extreme diet that I have encountered is a diet in which people actually inject insulin before a workout. The insulin decreases the amount of sugar or carbohydrates in the blood. If there are no carbohydrates to use for energy, your body uses stored-up fat instead. This diet is extremely dangerous and can cause life-threatening low blood sugars which could lead to death.

Why do you encourage people to attend the presentations on Dec. 12?

It’s the season when many people overconsume sweets and other delicious holiday food. These well-researched student presentations will help people identify which fad diets are safe and effective, and which fad diets are harmful.

 

EVENT DETAILS

What: Fad Diet Presentations by NEOMED Pharmacy Students

When: 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Dec. 12

Where: Rooms 2011-2020, NEOMED Education and Wellness Center, 4209 state Route 44, Rootstown, OH 44272

Cost: Free and open to the public