Fulton is another self-published phenomenon, selling 120,000 copies of his ebook on iTunes before it was sold to US and UK publishers for seven-figure sums.
The diet, like many best-selling diets these days, is low-carb, so fruit is out. But what’s getting attention are the unusual to extreme practices Fulton recommends to lose weight:
- Have a daily cold bath.
- Skip breakfast.
- Drink coffee before you workout.
- Blow up balloons.
Predictably there are plenty of health experts tearing his theories to shreds, but there are also journalists attempting to bring some balance to their critiques.
Julia Llewellyn-Smith in The Independent writes:
“But cold baths have indeed been shown, since Egyptian times, to significantly raise metabolic rates … Two black coffees on an empty stomach will help burn calories quicker. Fruit may sound healthy, but intake should be limited because fructose contains leptin, which blocks signals to the body that it’s full. Blowing up balloons indeed works our transversus abdominis muscles … His advice to skip breakfast is commonly held to be a diet crime punishable by a lifetime in XXL jeans. Yet evidence shows that if you exercise first thing on an empty stomach (after a cold bath and two black coffees), you’ll burn fat faster.”
We all know by now that the healthiest and best way to long-term weight loss is to simply burn more than you put in. Balancing your protein intake against carbohydrate intake can aid this process. Too many carbs are not good for you, but neither is too much protein, and people still disagree on what the right balance is. (NB: Fulton’s position is that each meal should be 50% protein.)
There have always been crazy diets and there probably always will be. But what REALLY distresses me about ‘Six Weeks to OMG: Get Skinnier Than All Your Friends’, is not so much the content, but this:
- The target market: so clearly teenage girls and young women that the writer’s protestations otherwise are shamefully unbelievable. As if the title isn’t proof enough, there are plenty of references to parents and teachers, such as: “Coffee. Nice? Yuk? Something that teachers drink?”
- The use of the word “skinny” – an irresponsible, anti-health message if ever there was one.
- Exhorting readers to be “skinnier than their friends” – pitting teens and young women against each other in the race to be skinny. It makes me feel sick and angry just thinking about this message reaching teenage girls. How it must mess with their heads and their friendships. With some carefully chosen words, Fulton is suggesting their “friends” are rivals in a war of rapid weight-loss.
- He is anti-parents: “Many will say that you don’t need any help, including parents. They might state that, ‘you’re fine as you are’, ‘it’s unhealthy’, or repeat the classic, ‘it’s just puppy fat’. Guess what, you’re not a puppy! Are they right about the other stuff? No. Only you can ever decide if you’re fine. No one else.”
- He is anti-science: “Geeks can afford to relax. After all, lab coats are great at hiding thighs of any size.”
Some critics are saying this book will encourage disordered eating. Anorexia and bulimia are on the rise in Australia, with the greatest increase in children aged 12 and under (cases more than doubled between 1999 and 2006). Anorexia nervosa is the third-most common chronic adolescent problem and the psychiatric condition that causes the most number of deaths. It’s thought about 70% of 15-year-old girls are on a diet. Even short-term extreme dieting can do long-term damage to the body, our thinking and our appetite.
Plenty of mothers have tried Atkins, the Dukan Diet, the South Beach Diet. Now that I have a teenager, I think it’s best that I never do another diet that has a name or a book. I’m pretty sure that no mum of teenagers (boys or girls) will have a copy of ‘Six Weeks to OMG: Get Skinnier Than All Your Friends’ in the house. But keep an eye out for it in your teen’s bedroom. They probably won’t tell you about it, because the writer has encouraged them not to.
What do you think of this and other fad diets? Have you tried any?
Does having children make you feel differently about them?