I’ll be honest. When I read that a new diet book targeting teenage girls is all the rage in the U.K. and it’s called “Six Weeks to OMG: Get Skinnier Than All Your Friends”, two thoughts came to mind.
First: Another quick fix, likely unhealthy diet that will get the author some fast money.
Second: I would’ve eaten this up as a teenager, pardon the pun.
The diet plan includes such things as sitting in an ice cold bath to burn calories, giving up eating fruit, skipping meals (say no to breakfast!) and drinking lots of coffee. These are common tips also found on pro-eating disorder websites. You would be hard-pressed to find these tips suggested by a nutritionist or doctor who understands how healthy weight loss is both achieved and maintained.
Apparently the author doesn’t have a problem with adding fuel to the fire. This self-published e-book has made the author a millionaire, according to U.K. publications, and just netted him a seven-figure book deal in the U.S.
The author of the book is Paul Khanna, who uses the pen name Venice A. Fulton. The credentials he claims are that he’s a celebrity personal trainer and a sports scientist in the U.K. . He says he wrote the book in a library, and his theories came at least partly from reading some scientific papers on metabolism and weight. Even diet books that advocate questionable ways in which to lose weight often have someone with a medical or nutritional degree behind them. It’s hard to vet someone who “read some papers.”
Khanna claims that his diet will help a person lose 20 pounds and reduce cellulite, and apparently many U.K. folks are buying it.
Psychologist Deanne Jade of the National Centre for Eating Disorders finds the book very disturbing. “This diet uses psychology against vulnerable young teenagers and will encourage unhealthy competitions to lose weight, ” she said.
The book’s title is inspired by the stars of “The Only Way Is Essex”, a British reality tv show, and their obsession with competitive dieting.
Khanna denies he is targeting teenagers, but the title suggests otherwise. The reality is that using vernacular that appeals to young people – OMG! – and embracing the insecurity so common with teenagers and college age people (I can’t be seen as fat by my friends!) is an easy way to get young people to buy the book and follow the instructions. Impressionable minds will understandably find the option to lower your carbs by getting them solely through sodas to be a great idea. Substituting exercise for meals is a hallmark of someone trying a fad diet or beginning a long road to an eating disorder.
I remember vividly standing around swallowing diet pills when I was a teenager and planning for when I would soon have “the perfect body.” If this book had come out then, I would’ve considered it the answer to my problems. I could lose weight, be fabulous, never be unhappy again AND be skinnier than all my friends. It’s a genie in a bottle! And oh how it would’ve fueled the eating disorder I already had but wasn’t aware I had.
The reality is that using a lot of baseless, desperate attempts to quickly lose weight and believe this will solve all your problems is pointless at best and damaging at worst. And I see a lot more “worse” going on here. People who believe an e-book with a few pro-anorexia tips is the answer to weight problems are opening themselves up to a world of hurt, especially when the audience is so young. It’s easy for some to believe that six weeks of extreme behavior is genius, and just as easy to believe that if it doesn’t work the first time just keep trying. Run another cold water bath. Skip another meal. Replace it with another workout. If it does work, then why stop at 20 pounds? Double your time, double your reward, right?
I hope the people to whom this book is aimed will stop to think about the dangerous methods recommended and choose healthier ways to address weight loss, if they need it at all.