The Horrors of Crash Dieting

“An overwhelming majority of Americans — at least 45 million of us, according to CBS News — are on a diet. And yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 68 percent of people over 20 are either obese or overweight” says Alex O'Meara in his article from He has been a writer since 1987, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Long Island University. Americans have become obsessed with being healthy. In the past few years Americans have been getting fatter and fatter. They have decided to make a change. They want to lose weight and be healthy. In order to get healthy Americans have decided to diet. In James Miller's book The Eater Reader, he says, “Of all the standards for figuring out what [Americans] should and should not eat, none seems in greater vogue these days than nutrition.” Americans now have to make the decision about what to eat, not only based on taste or cost, but on how healthy the food item is. Americans want everything fast and easy, so it is only natural that they choose fast and easy diets. There are thousands of diet and exercise programs designed to help people lose weight at a fast pace. In order to do this Americans have turned to crash diets. Americans have turned to crash diets in order to be healthier and lose weight, but these diets are actually making their health worse.

Crash diets are diets that rely on a very limited intake of calories. Basically the person on the diet is starving themselves so that their body burns off their extra fat. Crash diets are for people who want to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time. Everyone knows Americans are lazy, and are always looking for faster easier ways to do things. Crash diets give Americans the opportunity to lose weight that they have put on over a long period of time in a few short weeks. These diets usually involve cutting out a lot of calories and only eating a little bit of a certain type of food. Crash diets sound appealing to people for a variety of reasons. People have lives that are so busy they cannot take time to cook good food properly or workout daily. They are so concerned with dropping pounds that they do not care what else happens.

Even so, many people start crash diets because they think they are too busy to make big changes and focus on their health. They say that they do not have time to go to the gym or cook healthy meals, so it is easier to engage upon a crash diet for a few weeks in order to drop the pounds.

In fact, some people lose weight quickly on crash diets, but later they gain it back. “Nearly 65 percent of dieters return to their pre-dieting weight within three years, according to Gary Foster, Ph.D., clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania” (Qtd in O'Meara). Crash diets do not help people keep the weight off. As soon as the diet is over, the person goes back to their old ways of eating and usually gains back all or even more weight than they lost on the diet. Soon the person goes back onto the diet or another crash diet, and the vicious cycle repeats. After being excited about losing weight, the creation other health problems eliminates the benefit of dieting.

After all, crash diets rely on people starving themselves to lose weight. Human bodies try to counter that problem by slowing down metabolism and storing more of the calories that it is given. Crash diets lower metabolism, especially in women. By having a lower metabolism, human bodies do not burn calories as quickly as they did before. Women are always struggling to lose weight, so they need a higher metabolism to burn lots of calories. Crash diets can have harmful lasting effects. An article in Shape magazine, a magazine devoted to women's health, says, “Taking calorie cutting too far not only slows your metabolism, it may also weaken your bones, according to a study from the University of Missouri” (Shape). Bone strength is very important, especially in women. The crash diet that a person was on for two weeks could leave them with bone problems for a long time. When people go on crash diets, they think that they will lose weight and be healthier, when in fact they are becoming less healthy. No one thinks about his or her bone heath, or lowering his or her metabolism. Cutting calories affects the entire body.

On the other hand, some people say that there are crash diets that work. In fact the famous TV doctor, Dr. Oz has endorsed some crash diets. However, results don't last when the diet is finished. People who turn to crash diets in order to lose weight usually gain the weight back. Weight loss needs to be a lifestyle change. It is the way a person has to live for the rest of their lives. Weight loss will not last if the person just does a diet for a few weeks, and then returns to their old ways.

Still, some people need to lose weight quickly for special occasions. They say crash diets are helpful on these occasions. It is true a person may be able to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, and look good for their wedding, reunion, or party, but they could also have lasting negative health effects long after the event is over. The best thing to do is to plan ahead. If a person knows they want to lose weight for a special occasion, they should make changes right away. One small but easy way to cut calories and lose weight is to switch from soda to water. Soda is packed with extra calories and sugar, and water is good for people. Making a little change and getting use to it, then making another little change is the best way to lose weight and be healthy. When it is eventually time for the special event, the person will look, feel, and be healthy. Sadly there is no easy fix to the problem of obesity. The best way to lose weight is to make small changes over a long period of time. These changes need to involve both a healthy diet and an exercise routine. Losing weight is not something someone can do in a week. Weight loss needs to happen over an extended period of time.

In conclusion, Americans want to be healthy and lose weight, and they want to do so quickly. Crash diets have become the solution for dropping pounds fast, but crash diets are very unhealthy, and once they are over the people on them usually revert back to their original size. Americans need to seriously consider their overall health and take weight loss one step at a time.


“Crash Diets Ineffective and Unhealthy” Shape 28.5 (Jan 2009): 100 Health Source Consumer Edition WEB 26 FEB 2013 Miller, J. “Nutrition” The Eater Reader (2011): 8 PRINT 26 FEB 2013 O'Meara A. “The Percentage of People Who Regain Weight After Rapid Weight Loss & Risks” (May 12, 2011):1WEB 26 FEB 2013

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