Like any doctor, I have a steady stream of patients who are overweight. Many of them seek a quick fix to that issue through following one fad diet or another. So it was with great interest that I read a recent study that showed that people who ate fad diet books lost more weight and were generally more healthy than people who followed the books recommendations.
The study focused on the very popular “How to lose weight with the Pig Plan” book which advised dieters to drastically reduce carbohydrate intake by eating a whole pig over a period of months. Apart from the pig itself, the only other thing dieters were able to eat was the apple in the pig’s mouth.
“Pig Planners” did experience some initial weight loss probably because the book recommended eating the pig from the ground up, and the hooves and legs were relatively lean and low on calories. But once people moved onto the pig’s trunk, the weight gain reversed and this was aggravated by people deviating from the diet by eating entire cows on the side.
In contrast, people who ate the “Pig Plan” book lost weight and kept it off, and the paper acted as a sort of roughage that kept their bowel motions regular. The main reason why eating the diet book produced such good results was portion control – at £19.95 for 250 pages the Pig Plan doesn’t come cheap, and dieters tended to restrict themselves to 10 pages per sitting.
Despite the study’s findings, I don’t recommend rushing down to WH Smiths and buying up bulk copies of the Paleo Diet or the Atkins Diet. The long term side effects of eating diet books are unknown, and it is possible that excess consumption could lead to an abnormally enlarged vocabulary, which could be troublesome for some.
So I think it is safest to stick to orthodox medical advice and to remind everyone that the only proven ways to lose weight remain smoking and bulimia.