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Fad Diet, Their Threats and Public Education Plan


Fad diets are a loosely defined category that includes popular diets that are not recognized by official healthcare institutions. Common elements of fad diets include the simplicity of the regimen, appeal to non-scientific or pseudoscientific authority, and short implementation time. When combined, these factors create a highly appealing option.

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Despite the claimed superiority, fad diets are rarely effective for consistent weight loss. The short-term positive effects are often a result of misinterpretation of readings. In addition, they are followed by an increased gain in the long term.

The benefits of fad diets are rarely supported by reliable evidence. On the other hand, the negative health effects are well-documented. In addition to unnecessary stress, fad diets may result in severe side effects and aggravate the health state of individuals with chronic conditions. The main purpose of this project is to demonstrate that fad diets are an ineffective and harmful approach.

Fad Diet: Definition

A fad diet is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of approaches to weight loss. While the diets in question rarely demonstrate uniformity of features, some of their characteristics occur more often than others. One such characteristic is the simplicity of the scheme responsible for weight loss. The most common approach is offering a universal model that results in an equally impressive outcome for anyone who decides to use it. Evidently, such an approach ignores the necessity to acknowledge the individual needs of different patients, which, by extension, points to an inherent flaw in the system. A certain proportion of fad diets require such universality to allow for seamless commercialization since it permits selling them on a massive scale without the costly adjustments (Jáuregui-Lobera, 2017). However, the majority of the diets are not distributed through centralized business models, relying instead on the accessibility derived from their apparent simplicity.

The second aspect of fad diets that should be acknowledged is the appeal to an authoritative source as an attempt to establish credibility. The common sources of authority include ancient wisdom, pseudoscientific background, unreliable and unverifiable personal testimonies, and misinterpreted causality resulting from the lack of valid evidence, among others. It is important to understand that while some of the mentioned justifications are associated with unfair practices and deliberate fraud, a significant proportion of testimonies and arguments in favor of fad diets come from genuine mistakes, either due to the lack of understanding of principles of scientific inquiry or as a result of certain cognitive biases.

Fad Diet’s Popularity

The popularity of fad diets is further reinforced by the deteriorating trust in evidence-based medicine, which, according to the popular perception, is inefficient, expensive, prone to error, and impersonal. Against such a background, fad diets appear as a simple solution that provides substantial advantages over the traditional schemes offered by healthcare providers. The former typically promise a considerable improvement in terms of weight loss by excluding a certain ingredient or chemical compound whereas the latter rely on control of caloric intake and exercise, which is clearly a less appealing option.

At this point, it is necessary to emphasize the fact that despite the appeal and ease of implementation, fad diets pose a number of feasible health risks. First, a major proportion of diets are systems designed for short-term use. The implication behind this approach is the ability to achieve the result which typically requires a significant investment of time and effort in a month or less. In many cases, these systems do not have any scientific plausibility and cannot be supported by a plausible scientific explanation (Jáuregui-Lobera, 2017). Most of the time, however, these diets incorporate major changes in nutrition that cannot be considered safe by modern standards.

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For instance, diets that advocate limiting the intake of carbohydrates do offer a short-term loss of weight – however, this is achieved at the cost of severely straining the nutritional reserves of the human body (Khawandanah, J., & Tewfik, 2016). For a healthy individual, such a diet poses only a minor health risk if terminated on time. However, for patients suffering from a chronic condition, it constitutes a major threat to the well-being and may, in fact, aggravate the situation (Khawandanah & Tewfik, 2016). In addition, the patients who require a lifelong change of dietary habits but instead choose to lose weight with the help of a fad diet disrupt the recommended treatment process and reduce the likelihood of recovery in the long term.

Finally, it is necessary to point out that while the positive effects of the majority of fad diets are not supported by meaningful evidence, numerous studies conclusively prove the definitive negative impact. For example, according to the article by Khawandanah and Tewfik (2016), fad diets that rely on dehydration as a part of the regimen produce a short-term weight loss. However, the effect is mostly attributable to the reduction of muscle tissue and loss of fluids in the organism and disappears equally rapidly. In addition, it is possible to expect a rapid gain in weight in the long term as a result of the diet-related stress (Khawandanah & Tewfik, 2016). It has also been established that fad dieting is associated with numerous side effects. For instance, according to the article by Nouvenne et al. (2014), diets that advocate increased protein intake change the chemical composition of urine and, by extension, increase the risk of kidney stone formation. In addition, these diets may disrupt the balance of nutritional components, and, as a result, create deficiencies.

Opposing Viewpoint

Further, it is essential to discuss the opposing viewpoint on the topic under consideration. The research by Navaro, Raz, Gabriel, Shriqui, Gonen, & Boaz (2017) could be mentioned as an example of the scientific attempt to justify the beneficial aspects of fad diets. First of all, the authors claim that the phenomenon of fad diets should not be ignored (Navaro et al., 2017). They also observe that such diets are often characterized by the “emphasis on a certain food or food group” (Navaro et al., 2017, p. 703). Despite that the majority of clinical trials suggests that fad diets are capable of reducing weight in a short amount of time due to “drastic caloric restriction rather than functional food properties”, the impact of the particular food groups on the weight loss in such dietary patterns is not sufficiently explored (Navaro et al., 2017, p. 702). Therefore, the authors assume that a more thorough investigation of the role of functional foods is needed (Navaro et al., 2017).

As the result of their findings, it is evident that there are several mechanisms through which the food specific fad diets might efficiently contribute to the weight loss (Navaro et al., 2017). In particular, they mention that “flavonoids such as naringenin and bergamot in grapefruit” and “the amino acids arginine and glutamine” can have a positive influence on glucose homeostasis (Navaro et al., 2017, p. 709). Further, it is stated that quercetin, which is found in astragalus and cabbage, “have anti-inflammatory properties” (Navaro et al., 2017, p. 709).

Nevertheless, it is possible to refute this point of view due to several reasons. First of all, the authors are focused on the food specific fad diets, which are not the most widespread ones. Secondly, only short-term effects are evidently elaborated in the mentioned study. The authors also indicate that there are no clinical results for the long-term effects, and thus it is not possible to recommend such diets for people with excessive weight or obesity. However, they insist that further studies of the properties of functional food could be beneficial for the healthy patterns of weight reduction (Navaro et al., 2017). In overall, the opposing viewpoint of fad diets being efficient and healthy is poorly justified, and thus could be considered as dispensable.


To solve the problem of fad diets, it is necessary to spread evidence-based information about the negative outcomes of engaging in such a way of losing weight. People should be aware of the detrimental impact of fad diets and stop thinking of them as of an exceptionally productive method of fighting obesity.

The Name of the Solution

I will call my solution “Fad diets – BAD diets!” The plan is to spread the information about the potential harm of fad diets through leaflets and consultations of therapists. There may be other solutions such as advertising through TV or radio. Compared with them, the proposed solution is cheaper and more effective. Leaflets and consultations will be proposed to specific populations such as obese adults or parents of obese children.

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The reasons why the idea will be successful are:

  • it is easy to implement;
  • it will cover many people belonging to the vulnerable group;
  • because of a catchy name, it will attract the attention of many people.

Since the thesis statement of the project is that fad diets are ineffective and lead to harmful outcomes, this solution seems to be the most effective.

Distinguishing the Solution

No solution to fad diets has gained enough scientific attention so far. However, since all solutions are on equal terms in what concerns reliability, it is possible to argue that my solution is quite significant. Obert, Pearlman, Obert, and Chapin (2017) remark that fad diets have a detrimental impact on health. Nouvenne et al. (2014) discuss the negative effect of such diets on the formation of urinary stones. Crowe (2014), Jáuregui-Lobera (2017), and Khawandanah and Tewfik (2016) mention that fad diets are ineffective in managing excessive weight. All of these studies prove the thesis statement. Since no alternative solution has been proved better than mine, it is possible to consider it beneficial.

Steps in Operationalizing the Solution

  1. gathering the information from reliable sources;
  2. collecting a team;
  3. assigning roles;
  4. generating a plan of actions;
  5. performing roles:
  • creating the drafts of leaflets and selecting the information for consultation services;
  • analyzing the situation in the community and choosing what facilities to choose for the implementation;
  • making arrangements at facilities about the implementation;
  • gathering feedback;
  • analyzing the results.

Summary of the Deliverables

The expected outcomes are people’s awareness of the bad influence of fad diets and their acquisition of productive ways of losing weight such as healthy eating habits and the need to exercise.


Since the problem of obesity is becoming more and more spread, and since the side effects of this condition may be rather severe, it is necessary to invest in the projects devoted to eliminating the issue. The materials needed for the solution include three laptops, internet access, paper, color printer, and costs for commuting.

The plan is worthwhile in terms of money, time, and energy. The needed resources are not numerous or expensive, and the duration of the project is several months.

Direct costs of obesity-related chronic medical conditions

The chart shows the costs of managing the diseases caused by obesity in billions of dollars (“Social analysis of obesity,” n.d.). Thus, it is obvious that much money is spent on obesity-related conditions, which necessitates the introduction of innovative solutions. Fad diets only make the situation worse, so it is crucial to spread the information about their detrimental impact on people’s health.


This paper aimed to build evidence for the assumption the fad diets are not effective for managing obesity and consistent weight loss, and that they can significantly harm one’s health. It is evident from the study that the benefits of fad diets only last for a short amount of time while showing no efficiency in the long-term period. The adverse impact of this dietary pattern is immense since it may result in severe health complications, especially for the people with chronic conditions. Also, such diets often cause unnecessary stress for the whole health system of an individual, manifesting itself in fatigue, insomnia, headaches, etc.

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Thus, the solution to offer people educational materials about the disadvantages of fad diets seems like a highly beneficial one. The next steps in the implementation of the project are collecting a team and finding the necessary resources. The primary plan of activities has already been developed. Thus, further activities will be focused on finding financial support and initiating the cooperation with healthcare facilities in which we plan to introduce the project.


Jáuregui-Lobera, I. (2017). Fad diets, miracle diets, diet cult… but no results. Journal of Negative and No Positive Results, 2(3), 90-93.

Khawandanah, J., & Tewfik, I. (2016). Fad diets: Lifestyle promises and health challenges. Journal of Food Research, 5(6), 80-94.

Crowe, T. (2014). Are fad diets worth their weight? Australasian Science, 35(1), 18-19.

Jáuregui-Lobera, I. (2017). Fad diets, miracle diets, diet cult… but no results. Journal of Negative and No Positive Results, 2(3), 90-93.

Khawandanah, J., & Tewfik, I. (2016). Fad diets: Lifestyle promises and health challenges. Journal of Food Research, 5(6), 80-94.

Navaro, D. A., Raz, O., Gabriel, S., Shriqui, V. K., Gonen, E., & Boaz, M. (2017). Functional Foods in fad diets: A review. Functional Foods in Health and Disease, 7(9), 702-715.

Nouvenne, A., Ticinesi, A., Morelli, I., Guida, L., Borghi, L., & Meschi, T. (2014). Fad diets and their effect on urinary stone formation. Translational Andrology and Urology, 3(3), 303-312.

Obert, J., Pearlman, M., Obert, L., & Chapin, S. (2017). Popular weight loss strategies: A review of four weight loss techniques. Current Gastroenterology Reports, 19(12), 61-61.

Social analysis of obesity. (n.d.). Web.

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