Your Health

Hong Kong Says Skip Worm Diet

Here's a weight-loss idea you shouldn't try at home—or anywhere else—swallowing a bunch of parasitic worms.

Roundworms aren't a good weight-loss plan. i i

hide captionA CDC lab technician holds a mass of Ascaris lumbricoides worms in a 2007 picture.

(James Gathany/CDC)
Roundworms aren't a good weight-loss plan.

A CDC lab technician holds a mass of Ascaris lumbricoides worms in a 2007 picture.

(James Gathany/CDC)

The Hong Kong health department is warning people to stay away from some products containing worms that are being hawked online as weight-control aids.

The female Ascaris worm, a common parasite, can grow as long as a foot, males slightly shorter. Usually they're spread by fecal contamination. So why intentionally gulp them down?

There's no science to support an infestation with parasites, such as the Ascaris roundworm, for weight loss, the Hong Kong health authorities say. The worms more commonly afflict children and can delay their growth and weight gain, the Centers for Disease and Prevention explains.

Infections with the worms, or ascariasis, don't cause a lot of symptoms most of the time and can be treated with drugs. But in some cases the worms can cause stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Worms can cause serious problems by blocking the intestine and tubes that take bile from the liver to the intestine.

They can also gross you out. If you need any more reasons to steer clear of wormy supplements, check out this video from the New England Journal of Medicine that shows an Ascaris worm wriggling around inside someone's intestines. Watching just before mealtime may even help you push the plate away. Yuck!

The Telegraph of London says Hong Kong abounds with kooky weight-loss schemes, "including sweat-inducing body suits, fat-dissolving injections" and the frightening "flammable paraffin wraps." So maybe a worm supplement is tame.

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