New Bupa research finds rise in extreme diets

Extreme diets! Bupa’s new research has found more people than ever before are searching for extreme post-pandemic crash diets to shift lockdown weight. Dr Elizabeth Rogers, Associate Clinical Director for Bupa Health Clinics, warns about the health risks associated with crash diets.

  • 800% more people googled ‘detox drinks to lose belly fat’ in 20211
  • 387% more of us turned to Google for ‘extreme weight loss methods’
  • 241% increase on Google for ‘weight loss injections’
  • 67% more people searched for ‘how fast can you lose weight by not eating’

A rise in people keen to lose lockdown weight has sparked them searching for unsustainable and extreme weight loss methods, according to new research from Bupa Health Clinics. ‘Weight loss injections’ and ‘easy ways to get skinny’ are some of the top searched terms, putting health and wellbeing at risk. According to Bupa’s Associate Clinical Director, Dr Elizabeth Rogers, restricting your diet can deplete your body of essential minerals and vitamins, leaving you feeling low, fatigued, and irritated. It also puts you at a greater risk of suffering with headaches, constipation, and anaemia. There’s a higher risk of developing health issues, such as gallstones, nutritional deficiencies and eating disorders.

Bupa’s Associate Clinical Director, Dr Elizabeth Rogers, warns us about this worrying trend:

“Changing your eating habits every now and again is natural, and so is committing to a healthier, balanced diet. Some extreme diets promise fast results but can have serious health consequences.

Crash diets – like detox drinks – often make unrealistic promises about how much weight you will lose over a short amount of time. For example, our new research has found 800% more people searched for ‘detox drinks to lose belly fat’ in 2021. Although you may lose a few pounds at first, you won’t sustain the weight loss in the long-term. As soon as you stop restricting your diet, chances are you’ll put the weight straight back on.

Skipping meals, cutting out food groups or overexercising aren’t the right solutions for healthy, sustainable weight loss. Do it gradually and adopt healthy habits, along with a health professionals’ guidance”, shares Dr Elizabeth Rogers. Five steps to sustainable weight loss, according to Bupa’s Dr Elizabeth Rogers:

1. Think positively about your body

Losing excess weight gradually can be beneficial for your health, but it’s important to consider where your desire to lose weight is coming from. Pressures from social media, magazines and TV to look a certain way may be a negative influence on the way you feel about how you look.

Having a positive body image generally means you feel comfortable with your appearance. Take note of your attitude towards your body and your weight. For example, if you always filter and edit photos of yourself before posting them on social media, take a second to stop and reflect on why

you feel the need to do that. Thinking honestly may help you to challenge negative thoughts and adjust them.

2. Set a realistic target

It’s important to lose weight safely. Generally, a weight loss of around 0.5 to 1kg (1 to 2lb) each week is a healthy, safe, and realistic target to aim for.

Losing weight gradually and making sustainable changes to your lifestyle means you’re more likely to maintain a healthy weight long term.

3. Aim for a healthy, balanced diet

The best way to lose weight is to reduce how many calories you’re eating and get more active at the same time. Cut down on foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar, reduce your alcohol intake and substitute fatty meats with leaner cuts or meat-alternatives such as beans and pulses.

Don’t feel you have to cut out all the foods you enjoy from your new eating plan as you might end up only craving them more. Instead, make sure you eat them only now and again and in small amounts. The key is to reduce your calorie intake without depriving yourself entirely, to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

4. Work regular exercise into your routine

Being more active in addition to making changes to your diet will give you the best chance of losing weight and keeping it off.

If you’re feeling ready, this might be the perfect opportunity to try out a new sport or activity, for example tennis, swimming, or a new gym class.

It’s important to find an activity that you enjoy doing, as this means you’re more likely to stick to it in the long run. Once you’ve found a workout you like, start building up the amount of exercise you do – aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise each week, for example brisk walking.

5. Find a strong support network

Draw on others for support and encouragement – you’re more likely to stick to your healthier habits if you let your friends and family know. You can also lean on the support of your doctor via a health check.

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