On A DietCredit: Helga Weber: http://www.flickr.com/photos/91695677@N00/3325145626/

Does losing 20lbs in 10 days sound like a dream? Not interested in eating right and exercising to achieve your weight loss goals? Losing a healthy 1-2lbs a week not good enough? Join the club. In this “must have it now” world that we live in fad diets seem to be more popular than ever. Except that many, which would have faded into obscurity gain an ongoing following thanks to the availability of (mis)information on the internet.

With obesity in America growing at alarming rates and hectic life styles encouraging unhealthy eating habits, the field is ripe for diet fads and weight loss products that produce fast results. Programs that focus on healthy eating and lifestyles are still popular and rake in hundreds of millions of dollars a year. However, programs that promise bizarre weight loss amounts in short periods are gaining ground with some medical professionals all too willing to cater to this desire by developing procedures that are mostly unsustainable in the long run.

[RELATED: Warning! Food Companies are Gambling with Your Life]

It should come as no surprise that controversy surrounds some of these inventions. The people who develop these procedures become rich playing into a mind-set that eschews self-control and restraint in in favor of indulgence and quick fixes. The measures are drastic and quite…sad. Below are three diet fads that need to go away but are persisting.

Miracle Patch

When you can’t stop yourself from eating, make it excruciatingly painful to do so. That’s the theory behind the Chugay Tongue Patch dubbed the “miracle patch.” Billed as “an alternative to more drastic methods such as gastric bypass surgery,” this wacky weight loss procedure involves sewing a stamp sized patch on the tongue to inhibit eating.[1]

Here’s how it works. A doctor takes your tongue and custom fits it with a small patch that’s made out of surgical mesh, the type used in hernia surgeries. This patch is then literally stitched to your tongue. Side effects include speech impediments (which improve as your tongue becomes acclimated to the alien substance), excessive drooling, difficulty sleeping and a tendency to wake up at night.

Ironically, the pain is why it works. People who have this procedure find it hurts too much to eat so they essentially live on liquids, which is what promotes the rapid weight loss. The procedure is reversible if the patch is removed within a month. Any longer and the patch could start to fuse to the tongue. The cost? $2000, which is much less than gastric bypass type surgeries that can start at $14,500.[1]

The tongue patch has been around since 2009 and is very popular in Venezuela where patients pay about $150 instead of the $2000 in the U.S. Patient testimonies include comments such as, “I don’t have the will power, so this was the only way."[2] It has not been approved by the FDA and frankly I hope it never is. The doctors say they have found a niche – a low cost alternative to more invasive procedures that is effective.

Feeding Tube Diet

If avoiding food altogether strikes you as the best way to lose weight then the K-E Diet may be just the thing for you. Otherwise known as the “feeding tube diet,” this weight shedding method involves sticking a tube in your nose and snaking it down your throat into your stomach. You then take home your powdered food pack, add water and attach it to your tube for feeding. The pack provides you with 800 calories a day and it can be supplemented with as much water, unsweetened, plain iced tea and coffee you can stand.

Patients who use this method pay $1499 and typically lose up to 20 lbs in 10 days. Yikes! While that amount of weight loss in such a short period sounds awesome (and admittedly tempting), it plays into everything that’s wrong with the lack of ability for delayed gratification culture that we have developed. As one doctor said, “Typically, when you put a tube in the nose, it’s for making people gain weight,” [3]because there is a medical problem, not vain weight loss desires.

With all of the free time you’ll have due to the lack of eating you can worry about your side effects which include bad breath, constipation, headaches, weakness and dehydration. I guess that 5k marathon you’ve been training for will have to be put on hold for two weeks, huh?

If the main cause of weight loss is living off of a liquid diet, why not just drink the 800 calories and day and not walk around with a tube in your nose (and down your throat) for ten days? Because silly, when you walk around with your feeding tube in, you will be supplied with your nutrients 24 hours a day and you won’t feel hungry or tempted to eat. Didn’t you know that “oral feedings alone have been shown to be far less effective…”?[4]

The cost is cheaper than the tongue patch. It’s also being touted as more cost effective than 15122007146Credit: gurmit singh: http://www.flickr.com/photos/40011875@N00/2112171163/eating solid meals on your own, but it’s also a time suck that can ultimately cost even more. This diet fad has patients visiting the clinic three times a week for the duration of the plan. And oh, what about the tube in your nose? Do you wear it on the street? To work? Do people carry the liquid food pack in their brief cases or wheel it behind them like an oxygen tank? Can you imagine the questions you’d receive? Would I actually be secure enough to actually tell the truth?

Ultimately this quick fix misses the point as weight is bound to return when better eating habits are not developed. In addition, ten days of an ultra-low calorie liquid diet may not kill you, but it does place unnecessary strain on your body and organs.

Jaw Wiring

The first time I learned about this extreme diet was in 1993 when watching MTV’s Real World. Tami (currently starring in the Reality Series, Basketball Wives), one of the housemates decided to wire her jaw shut in order to lose weight. In the video below, you’ll see that she clearly is not over weight, but she thought so and felt she needed to take drastic measures.

Jaw wiring in an orthodontic procedure which does not actually involve the jaw. Wires are attached to brackets which are bonded to the outside of the top and bottom teeth. The primary potential side effect is danger of choking if one vomits.

[RELATED: How I Closed the Gap in My Front Teeth Using Rubberbands]

One of the major differences between this and the above extreme diet methods that won’t die is that there does not appear to be an accompanying nutritional supplement plan. Patients are left to find and fund their own liquid diets. With this in mind people could easily gain weight by living off of high calorie liquids like ice cream shakes. The average weight loss with this method, probably due to a lack of a prescribed liquid plan is 1-2lbs per week. That’s a sad trade-off considering you aren’t eating any food and you could lose the same amount consuming fast food if you wanted.

[RELATED: Seven Steps to Losing Weight on the Fast Food Diet]

The estimated cost for what is ultimately a do-it-yourself weight loss project after getting wired shut is about $2500. It’s ironic how the least involved of these crazy diet plans appears to be the most expensive. As with most procedures, surgical or not, there is a list of warnings for people to heed and self-select out if appropriate. One site comically admonishes those whose “marital relations might be impaired,” not to have the procedure done.[5]

With all three of these methods the weight loss causing mechanism is not the actual procedure, but a very low-calorie liquid diet. So what does it say about us that we would disfigure our tongues, intubate ourselves or wire our mouths shut just to lose weight? There's no doubt that the availability of online information contributes to the popularity of these diets. It’s a conversation worth having…preferably over a meal of solid food.