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April 19th, 2012
02:32 PM ET

Feeding tube diet raises eyebrows

Brides often feel the pressure of looking their best on their wedding day, purchasing a dress with sometimes significantly lower wedding weight in mind. While some try to lose weight the healthy way focusing on long-term weight management, eating right and exercise, others attempt crash diets sometimes going to extreme measures to shed those extra pounds.

One such bride, Jessica Schnaider told ABC and The New York Times that she wanted to lose 10 pounds before her big day.  She went to Dr. Oliver Di Pietro in Miami Beach, Florida.  In a release to CNN, Di Pietro says he's brought the K-E diet to the United States from Italy.  The diet involves inserting a feeding tube into a patient's nose that runs to the stomach for a period of 10 days.

Patients do not eat any food, receiving their 800-calorie-a-day food supplements through a portable pump that they carry around.  Di Pietro says in his statement that he began to offer this "diet" to some of his obese patients. According to his statement, the "goal was to help them 'jump start' a longer weight loss program, and all who participated enjoyed a safe and significant weight loss of between 10-25 pounds depending on sex, initial weight and whether or not they chose to stay on the plan the entire 10 days." Schnaider told ABC she only did the diet for 8 days, stopping only once she reached her goal of losing 10 pounds.

Di Pietro says patients are monitored with urine and blood tests during the 10-day cycle.  He says before beginning the diet, patients are screened in order to participate.

Di Pietro says in the release that he "modified the plan for the U.S. by adding medium chain triglycerides and requiring stricter monitoring by a doctor."

His statement also says the that "the science is based on providing your body with only proteins and fats without carbohydrates or sugars, which force your body into what is called ketosis; this means your body burns up your stores of fat but not muscle because the program is only 10 days long.  Because it is delivered to the body in a unique way through the K-E Tube, it works effectively and quickly."

Art Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, describes this diet as "stupid" and "outrageous."  He tells CNN that this is not the way feeding tubes were intended to be used. According to Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Morgan Liscensky, "the FDA does not have any feeding tubes that are approved for weight loss.”

Emory Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Edward Lin says there are risks associated with having a nasogastric tube or feeding tube.  He lists insertion trauma, septum damage, perforated throat, lung damage, and GI bleeding, as potential short-term risks. When it comes to leaving a tube down your esophagus for 10 days, he says, "you can cause esophagus stricture which is tight narrowing from scarring," as well as put yourself at risk for pneumonia.

Lin says losing weight too fast can be dangerous and suggests eating right and exercising for the healthiest results. Patients who lose weight rapidly are more prone to getting gall stones, electrolyte abnormalities, such as low potassium resulting in muscle fatigue. "There are plenty of commercially available diets that serve as meal replacement diets through the mouth," he says.  "You really don't need a foreign device to do that." For most people who do this type diet, they'll end up gaining more weight in the end.


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