Scales EditedIt’s the same every New Year. The mirror shouts out and laughs at us. Our thoughts turn to self-improvement. Newspaper supplements start featuring purges. We dedicate ourselves, yet again, to unburdening the emotional and physical overload. We think about spas and new exercise regimes….and fad diets.

In the world of miracle diets the latest thing is urine hormone. The Cura Romana has swept America and is about to reach UK shores. Lifestyle guru Leslie Kenton’s new book, The Cura Romana Weight Loss Plan, expounds the joys of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin,) an extract from the urine of pregnant women. (One can’t help but wonder how this extract is collected.) Cura Romana has followers who have reported phenomenal results, claiming transformations in spiritual growth as well as in their health.

The diet consists of limiting yourself to 500 calories a day for six weeks accompanied by a daily dose of HCG. Most of us would call this a starvation diet. But the book claims that the hormone makes you burn fat for energy so that you don’t feel hungry. It also claims that the fat burnt comes from hips, tummy and thighs. And that it’s possible to lose 18lb in two weeks.

The Cura Romana has been around since it was invented by Albert Simeons, a British doctor in Rome in 1950. It was a revolutionary hit then as it is now. However, the US Food and Drug has required that marketing statements declare that it is not “effective as a treatment for obesity.” This hasn’t stopped the plan from taking American by storm. As a homeopathic supplement it can be bought over the counter. A two-week supply of spray cost £20.

The history of fad diets is long and varied. In the Victorian era people swore by a thyroid extract called Frank Kellogg’s Safe Fat Reducer. The downside was pretty terrifying and included side effects such as heart palpitations and sudden death.

In the 1930s “metabolic enhancers” were in vogue. These accelerated the shedding of pounds but there were also know to cause rashes, cataracts, loss of taste and fever.

One of the wildest that I’ve read about recently was the maple syrup diet. The syrup is mixed with lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper, known to boost metabolism. This mixture is drunk up to ten times a day, giving a calorie intake of 600/day.

Then there’s the Sleeping Beauty Diet. The dieter loses weight while sleeping. Or the Air Diet in which rhythmical breathing creates weight loss.

One of the newest detoxes, still to be launched in March in UK spas, is the “glacial shell therapy.” This is the latest in cryotherapy or cold treatments like snow rooms. Your legs and stomach are massaged with one heated and one chilled shell. The idea is that this breaks down fat. Oh, well, why not?

Then of, course there’s Old Fashioned Common Sense: eat less and exercise more. If you can do it, it always works.

Good Luck.

— Mrs M


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