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Weight reduction crash courses may lead to complications

Sahana Charan

Loss of muscle along with fat may have long-term repercussions

BANGALORE: If you are one of those with love handles or a pot belly but have no time to go through a healthy diet and exercise regime, chances are that you will be tempted to enrol in one of the crash weight reduction programmes.

Weight loss crash courses that promise to make you lose a kg in two days are becoming popular with people leading fast-paced lives. But they can do more harm than good, according to medical professionals.

Obesity is a growing problem not just among the middle-aged but also with the young. It is no more a cosmetic problem and is known to lead to various ailments, including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and bone-related problems.

"What is commonly seen among Indians is abdominal obesity, which makes them more prone to heart ailments and diabetes, which are caused by a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and improper food habits. Cases of diabetes among children are also on the increase.

This could be owing to the intake of junk food, lack of playing space and constant exposure to television and computers," S. Paramesh, consultant diabetologist at Bangalore Diabetes Centre and Manipal Hospital, says.

According to Dr. Paramesh, quick weight reduction programmes not just lead to fat loss but also muscle loss, which can be harmful. Because of this, the person taking the course gets the impression that he/she has lost weight. Moreover, a rigorous regime may lead to irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and also depression among some patients.

"These centres generally follow the very low-calorie diet (VLCD) or the Ketogenic diet plan that emphasise carbohydrate restriction while ignoring the total caloric content of the diet.

This type of diet is also potentially hazardous as it may aggravate kidney problems and contribute to a fatigue state," Joseph Pasangha, Head of the Department of Physical Therapy at Sagar Apollo Hospital, says.

He adds that a healthy weight reduction plan should include client-specific calorific prescription, including essential fats and carbohydrates, and also exercise using the FITT (frequency, intensity, time and type) principle.

Many of these centres use vibrators and electrical gadgets that guarantee a "slim and trim body." Swarupa Kakani, Chief Nutritionist at Sagar Apollo, says these gadgets are used to increase metabolic rate to burn calories but they do not work. Moreover, since those who enrol for such crash courses are starved most of the time, they may later eat more and put on more weight.

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