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Calling Out Diet Culture Pt. 2

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

In Part 1 I identified general risks to diet culture as a whole, and then spent some time analysing the unspoken cons, risks and pitfalls that is not discussed in Noom's marketing strategy.

This post will identify the cons, risks and pitfalls of the Keto diet and WW.

The ketogenic diet was originally developed to reduce seizure frequency for people with drug-resistant epilepsy. There is also some research supporting keto in terms of helping issues like migraines (as a short term solution). It was not initially developed as a diet for weight loss intentions. Please consult your doctor if you relate to anything raised here.

The rebranded keto diet for weight loss encourages cutting out food groups until your desired goal. Keto encourages fast weight loss (which is unsustainable, and increases the risk of weight cycling). Dieters attempt to cut out/drastically reduce their intake of carbohydrates. A food group that our brains and body need to survive and thrive.

UChicago Medicine- “The keto diet can cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies, and an increased risk of heart disease. Strict diets like keto could also cause social isolation or disordered eating.”

Restriction can lead to fixation, obsession, binge eating. 1 in 4 dieters develop an eating disorder. Eating disorders are the 2nd most deadly mental illness.

Now to turn our attention to WW...

Weight Watchers recently rebranded and shifted their marketing strategy to WW. This was an attempt to distance themselves from the increased awareness of the damaging effects of diet culture and focus on “wellness.”

Cute, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is still a diet.

The same problematic diet that has encouraged toxic disordered eating behaviours for over half a century. WW has been a diet plan powerhouse for almost 6 decades. This diet plan alone has a net income f $163.514 million (2017). As we identified in Pt.1 on the topic, diets are businesses, and in order for businesses to be successful they must have repeat customers. It is in their best interests for your diet to fail.

The morals of WW have recently been questioned by mainstream media when they launched their own app Kurbo designed for children aged 8-17. Golden (2016) “children who diet have an exponentially higher risk of developing eating disorders than those who don’t diet.”

WW is usually the first diet people will go on, and sets a foundation for people's disordered relationship with food.

The diet focuses on moralising food by assigning it points. It encourages weigh-ins and uses shame and guilt as a motivational tool. The point system dieters adopt is dangerous as there is an option for dieters to save their points to binge.

**This is not a criticism of individuals who engage in dieting, please know that we are all doing the best we can to navigate a world where this messaging is prevalent. I hold huge amounts of compassion for those actively engaging in diet culture, as much as those who are on their own journey to break free of it. This series is to highlight the cons, pitfalls and risks that are not discussed in the promotion and marketing of different diets.**

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