The Cotton Ball Diet – A Dangerous Weight-Loss Trend

I thought the Tapeworm diet was as bad as weight loss fads could get, but I was mistaken. Desperate dieters keep coming up with new, innovative methods to shed pounds. The latest trend is to eat cotton balls soaked in orange juice, lemonade or smoothies.

It’s all over the internet. Chat rooms, YouTube videos and blogs are describing to young women how the cotton ball diet is done. The trend is said to have caught on after model Bria Murphy (Eddie Murphy’s daughter) admitted to seeing models subjecting themselves to this diet. “I’ve heard of people eating the cotton balls with the orange juice. They dip it in the orange juice and then they eat the cotton balls to help them feel full,” Murphy told her interviewer on Good Morning America.

The idea behind the cotton ball diet is to feel full without having to gain weight. Some practitioners stick to just eating cotton all day. Others chow down on these fillers before a meal, so they can eat less. Dieters are able to swallow as many as five juice-dipped balls in one sitting, before they feel completely full.


Photo: video caption

Naturally, medical experts are expressing serious concerns over this new fad, labeling it as “very, very dangerous.” Brandi Koskie, managing director of the website Diets in Review, says that unless a person is eating an expensive, organic brand of cotton, the diet is completely unsafe. Most cotton balls aren’t cotton at all; they 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,” Koskie told ABC news. “Nothing good can come of this, nothing,” she warned.

Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, chief medical officer at the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, has a similar opinion. Eating cotton balls is just as bad as eating cloth, or buttons or coins, he says. Apart from the obvious risks of choking and malnutrition, it could also lead to blockage in the intestinal tract – a trapped mass called ‘bezoar’.


“The most common causes of bezoars are swallowing indigestible matter like hair or too much vegetable fiber,” said Dr. Bermudez. “Cotton balls could certainly cause similar problems.” Over time, they could build up and cause blockages or full obstruction, which are life-threatening conditions.

While models have been suspected of eating cotton balls for years, the trend has now reached teen and tween girls everywhere. There are YouTube videos made by girls in the age group of 9 to 16, showing how to eat cotton balls. According to Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association, “We certainly aren’t talking about health anymore. We’re talking about weight and size and something that is potentially very, very dangerous.”


It’s sad to see how young and beautiful girls are subjecting themselves to such brutal and extreme measures. I do wish they would learn to be more sensible.

Sources: ABC News, Medical Daily

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