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9 Unbelievably Weird and Sadistic Weight-Loss Schemes

People are willing to take drastic measures to drop extra pounds.

In January, a company called Obalon announced the launch of its new wonder weight-loss product, a pill turned gastric balloon, in the UK. The 10-minute procedure requires the patient to consume a capsule the size of a horse pill containing the balloon, which inflates upon reaching the stomach. Once the balloon expands, patients are supposed to feel sated, and will supposedly eat less. The patient can follow up with a second balloon the next month, and a third balloon after that. It’s a party in your stomach!

Despite steadfast evidence that weight loss is achieved by creating a responsible, sustainable calorie deficit, humans endeavor to find an easier path around the hard science in order to achieve the least arduous, most grandiose change in the shortest period of time. Some go to great lengths, making themselves vulnerable to sickness and irreparable damage in order to lose weight quickly, but this is hardly new behavior. In the 19th century, doctors diagnosed anorexia as a condition of hysteria. Lord Byron was an anorexic who used laxatives and subsisted on vinegar and potatoes.

Here are nine strange contemporary fads for weight loss.

1) The Vision Diet: You will never wander into a TGI Fridays or stand in line at a fast-food counter and find yourself enveloped in the color blue. While red and yellow (a la McDonald's) are appetite stimulants, the color blue is considered to be an appetite suppressant. The idea is that the hue represses hunger because it is not found in many natural food sources (blueberries being an obvious exception).

One Japanese company, Yumetai, is cashing in on this color psychology by manufacturing blue-tinted glasses. While donning the shades, aside from living every moment in Picasso’s blue period, the weight-conscious individual is supposed to find blue food unappetizing. It is reported that “the color blue acts to calm the brain’s appetite center.” Some weight-loss gurus have suggested looking at the color blue before eating, or dining off of blue dishes. One user of Yumetai’s spectacles recalled feeling more relaxed when she wore the shades, and she ate less. Perhaps instead of spending $19 on these cobalt specs, take up meditation or yoga.

2) Drunkorexia: “Drunkorexia” is the practice of saving one’s caloric intake for booze. It’s the bastard offspring of an eating disorder and binge drinking. Long before modern dysmorphic girls starved themselves for rum wine coolers, it is rumored that William the Conqueror went on a booze-only diet after becoming too heavy for his steed. Drunkorexics may drink themselves to the point of purging, or refrain from eating the day before or after a big night of partying.

The predilection for this liquid diet goes beyond sorority gals, and affects women even in their 40s. Studies demonstrate that 30 percent of women between 18 and 23 have foregone food to save calories for alcohol, while 16 percent practice this regularly. The perilous side effects are many: malnutrition, dehydration, a compromised immune system, trouble thinking and making decisions, risk of liver disease and diabetes, and of course the potential for alcohol poisoning, not to mention the non-medical hazards of binge-drinking.

3) Fletcherizing: Once upon a time, one gnashing enthusiast and excreta hobbyist by the name of Horace Fletcher (later nicknamed the "Great Masticator”) lost 40 pounds, which he attributed to thoroughly chewing his food, grinding each bite so finely that the mouthful became liquefied. Fletcher prosthelytized that by chewing your food 32 times per tooth, one could absorb more vitamins and nutrients than when by swallowing food in pieces. Aside from the dining experience transforming into a laborious time suck, Mary Roach notes that meals attended by Fletcher were excruciatingly quiet and boring, since no one would be so impolite as to speak while incessantly chewing.

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