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Feeding Tube Wedding Diet "Fad" Concerns Experts

7:18 AM, Apr 18, 2012   |    comments
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(CBS News) -- Many brides-to-be may turn to diets to squeeze into that wedding dress, but how far are some willing to go?

The New York Times reports that some women with upcoming nuptials are opting for a calorie-restricted crash diet consisting of shakes siphoned through a medically implanted feeding tube.

The Times' piece mentions other controversial but common quick-fix weight loss methods, such as fad diets, juice cleanses, extreme professional trainers or HCG-hormone injections. But the one that raised the most eyebrows around the web was the so-called "K-E diet" that's given by Dr. Oliver R. Di Pietro in his clinic in Bay Harbor Islands, Fla.

For the diet, Di Pietro implants a nasogastric tube that connects through the nose and down the esophagus into the stomach (video here). A protein-rich, carbohydrate-free formula is fed through the tube throughout the day, restricting the dieter to 800 calories per day for 10 days.

Di Pietro said the diet leads to quick weight because the body burns fat in the absence of sugar and carbs, a process known as ketosis. With a price tag of $1,500, Di Pietro monitors the patient for all 10 days and provides the equipment. Side effects include bad breath, constipation and dizziness.

"I get a lot of brides," Di Pietro told the Times. "At first I decided not to do it for people who just want to lose a few pounds. But then I thought, why should I say 5 or 10 pounds are not enough? People want to be perfect."

Is his method the latest extreme diet fad to sweep the country?

"This is the first time I've actually heard of that," Dr. Michael Aziz, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and author of "The Perfect 10 Diet," told HealthPop.

"As far as I know not a lot of folks out here (West Coast) are doing it but I am sure some entrepreneur doc will start," Dr. Ken Fujioka, director of the Scripps Clinic Center for Weight Management, told HealthPop in an email. "It just seems odd that a patient would want a feeding tube sticking out of their nose and to just be fed that way."

Aziz agrees with that sentiment, and thinks the technique is "very dangerous" and can perforate the patient internally and cause infections. He said the tube is typically placed in unconscious patients who can't feed themselves.

Not only that, but since it is a calorie-restricted diet, the procedure raises other potential health risks. With calorie-restricted crash diets, most of the weight loss people see is water weight, Aziz said, and may quickly gain it back after the diet. Long-term, he said, a calorie-restricted protein diet along these lines could lead to nutritional deficiencies, thyroid problems, cardiomyopathy (a physically damaged heart muscle often caused by poor nutrition) and slow down metabolism to boot, making it easier to gain weight in the future.

"It's just a very crazy way to lose weight," Aziz said.

Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, added to the New York Times, "Any extreme low-calorie diet is associated with side effects, kidney stones, dehydration, headaches, and if you lose muscle mass and water, what's the point of that?"

Then what's the healthiest way for an upcoming bride to lose weight? Aziz says to plan ahead and eat a balanced diet and exercise. He said people should lose no more than 2 pounds a week to ensure healthy dieting habits, and when it comes to crash diets, a bride-to-be might wind up in an emergency room on her wedding day.

"The problems are rare, but if they happen to you, they can change your life for good"


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