The Tapeworm Diet

The Tapeworm Diet Find more family blogs at Families.comWe live in a society where being thin is seen as more important than being healthy. This can lead some desperate people to attempt fad diets that are completely and entirely unsafe. The tapeworm diet is dangerous, unhealthy, and will not result in weight loss. It is advisable that people speak with their doctor before starting any diet.

What is the Tapeworm Diet?
The tapeworm diet is not really a diet at all. Instead, it is an extremely dangerous attempt to lose weight that is based on misinformation. Some people have become convinced that intentionally swallowing a tapeworm will allow them to eat as much as they desire and lose weight at the same time (without having to exercise). Most people who consider this “diet” are unaware of the real dangers that can happen when a person chooses to ingest a parasite.

Where did the Tapeworm Diet Originate?
The history of the tapeworm diet is clouded in dubious claims. Snopes points out that the tapeworm diet that is talked about today comes from an old rumor about an opera singer named Maria Callas. She was 5’8” tall and said to have once weighed more than 200 pounds. Someone started a rumor that Maria Callas swallowed a tapeworm to lose weight. There is no proof that she did any such thing.

Every so often, a celebrity is said to have undergone the tapeworm diet in order to quickly lose weight. There isn’t any proof that the celebrity actually swallowed a tapeworm. Even so, there are some people who believe the rumor and then attempt to seek out a tapeworm pill.

In 2013, a woman in Iowa told her doctor that she had bought a tapeworm off the internet and ingested it. The doctor called the Iowa Department of Public Health for treatment advice.

Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, from the Iowa Department of Public Health, advised the doctor to prescribe an anti-worm medication. Dr. Quinlisk also made it clear that “ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths.”

What is a Tapeworm?
A tapeworm is a parasite that can live in a person’s intestines. They are flat, ribbon-like worms that are made up of segments. Some adult worms can grow to 15-30 feet in length. People might catch a tapeworm infection by eating raw contaminated pork, beef or fish. A person who has a tapeworm infection, and who doesn’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom, can spread it to others.

Why Do People Consider Swallowing a Tapeworm?
In general, these people are misinformed. They don’t know that a tapeworm will not cause them to lose weight, and are unaware of the dangers that can happen when a person is infected with a parasite.

Image by satemkemet on Flickr.

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