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New and Dangerous Cotton Ball Diet Trend Starting

Update Date: Nov 25, 2013 01:38 PM EST

Despite campaigns and initiatives that promote a healthy body image, adolescents and young adults are still going to extremes in order to become thin. A few months ago, the youth were obsessed with the thigh gap, which is the space in between the thighs. Now, a new diet trend has emerged. The latest diet, called the cotton ball diet, is starting spread as more and more people attempt to lose weight by consuming liquid soaked cotton balls.

Based on research gathered from chat rooms, YouTube videos and other sources, researchers were able to get a good picture of what the cotton ball diet involves. According to Brandi Koskie, the managing editor of the website, Diets in Review, the cotton ball diet requires people to consume, in one sitting, five cotton balls that have been drenched in some liquid, which could be orange juice, lemonade or some kind of smoothie. Some dieters would eat cotton balls before an actual meal. Koskie, who has been following the diet for some years already, stated that the cotton balls create the feeling of being full.

"Nothing good can come of this. Absolutely nothing," Koskie said according to ABC News. "Your clothing is also made of polyester, so swallowing a synthetic cotton ball is like dipping your T-shirt in orange juice and eating it."

Koskie stressed that people might not be aware of the fact that cotton balls are not made of just cotton. These products are bleached and contain chemicals along with polyester fibers. If consumed in excess, the cotton balls could get stuck somewhere in the human digestive system, which could lead to an obstruction or a trapped mass, called bezoar. This type of diet can also easily lead to malnutrition.

"The most common causes of bezoars are swallowing indigestible matter like hair or too much vegetable fiber. Cotton balls could certainly create similar problems," Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, the chief medical officer at the Eating Recovering Center in Denver, CO said.

Even though the cotton ball diet recently gained more awareness, aspiring models have been suspected of following this potentially life-threatening diet for years. The most recent research suggests that the group with the highest risk of following this diet is girls between the ages of nine and 16.

"When we talk about something like this we certainly aren't talking about health anymore," Lynn Grefe, the president and CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association, said. "We're talking about weight and size and certainly something that is potentially very, very dangerous. I've had patients in my practice eat things like paper and clay for the same reason -- they're trying to distract themselves from hunger and prevent weight gain. It's certainly a misguided practice, and I find it alarming for young girls to be doing this who don't have the information to understand what they are doing to their bodies."

The experts stressed the importance of increasing children's awareness about the dangers involved with consuming cotton balls. Furthermore, the subject of body image needs to be addressed more effectively.

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