Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 26, 2021
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(In)famous food advice

A diet low in food but rich in alcohol? How about the one in which you fill up on substantial portions of air and sunlight? These are just two of the weight-loss diets that made the British Dietetic Association’s annual list of the Top 5 Worst Celebrity Diets to Avoid. Here the BDA’s full list for 2014:

The Breatharian Diet

This is similar to the French L’Air Fooding diet, popularized in a 2010 issue of French Grazia, which managed to interpret a Dolce & Gabbana ad campaign featuring Madonna being all domestic – washing dishes, chopping veggies, holding up spaghetti but not eating it – as an endorsement of what the mag called the new It diet. Breatharians believe they get all the nutrients they need from air and/or sunlight alone. Michelle Pfeiffer claims she was once influenced by a Breatharian cult. The Grazia spread came with a sidebar recipe for soupe à l’eau or water soup – literally water and salt.


This one looms large on the internet, and is dangerous if you’re easily swayed by pseudoscience. The diet aims for site-specific body fat reduction. It begins with a test, called the biosignature modulation, which checks your hormonal balance, body fat, genetics, deficiencies and toxicity. Spot reduction is achieved by choosing only certain foods, not eating others, with a training regimen and supplements. Boy George swears by it.

The Gluten-Free Diet

The BDA takes issue with celebrity diet experts like Gwyneth Paltrow who allegedly advocate a gluten-free diet for all — not just for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

The Alcorexia/Drunkorexia Diet

This diet advocates eating very few calories during the week and saving up in order to binge-drink. One “banks” about 1500 calories a day, leaving you with 10,500 extra for the week — all for drinking. The 10,500 banked calories amount to: 131 glasses of red wine, or 26 bottles; 45 pints of lager beer; or 201 shots of spirits. That’s one long hangover!

The Dukan Diet

This one, created by former French MD Pierre Dukan, banned from general practice in 2013, has appeared on the BDA’s list since 2010. Reported followers include Jennifer Lopez and Carole Middleton. The Dukan is a high-protein, no/low carb, four-phase diet that promotes rapid weight loss. Basically one restricts entire food groups. Side effect include lack of energy, constipation, the need for supplements and bad breath.

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