Latest fad ‘feeding tube’ diet concerns experts

Many brides-to-be may be turning to diets to fit into their wedding dresses but this has gone too far perhaps!

The New York Times reports that some women with upcoming weddings are opting for a calorie-restricted crash diet consisting of shakes siphoned through a medically implanted feeding tube. It is 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. 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. “It is a hunger-free, effective way of dieting,” Di Pietro said. “Within a few hours and your hunger and appetite go away completely, so patients are actually not hungry at all for the whole 10 days. That's what is so amazing about this diet.” Di Pietro says patients are under a doctor's supervision, although they're not hospitalized during the dieting process. Instead, they carry the food solution with them, in a bag, like a purse, keeping the tube in their nose for 10 days straight. Di Pietro says there are few side effects. 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.

“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,” said. Aziz 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?”

Aziz advises brides 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,” he said.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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