A woman in Iowa decided that she needed to lose weight, but she chose a very unusual way to shift the extra pounds – she swallowed a tapeworm.
Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, reported that the woman had admitted to her doctor that she had bought the worm on the internet.
The doctor immediately got in touch with the public health department to seek advice about what to do.
Quinlisk told health workers,”Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths.”
She added,”The worm would get into your gut – it’s got little hooks on the head – and it would grab onto your intestine and start growing.” Tapeworms can grow to a length of 30 feet inside the body.
She went on, “Tapeworms will cause you to lose weight because you have this huge worm in your intestines eating your food.”
To get the parasite out of a person’s body, doctors will usually prescribe an anti-worm medication. This forces all the muscles in the worm’s body to contract, killing it. The tapeworm will then harmlessly pass out of the body.
Of course, it’s easy to make light of extreme dieting strategies. But if a person is so desperate that they would consider something as horrific as a tapeworm diet, it means there are other issues, according to registered dietitian Elisa Zied.
Zied said: “I think that’s a red flag if they are willing to sacrifice their health in order to lose weight … If you get to the point of desperation where you will try anything, you need to just get back to the basics and really think about what’s going on in your life, and how you’re eating and how you’re being physically active.”
Which seems to be obvious advice. But for the unnamed woman from Iowa, ‘tapeworm diet’ appeared to be the only solution to her problem.