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A fad diet, or novelty diet, is a diet that is popular for a time, similar to fads in fashion, without being a standard dietary recommendation, and often promising unreasonably fast weight loss or nonsensical health improvements. There is no single definition of what is a fad diet, encompassing a variety of diets with different approaches and evidence bases, and thus different outcomes, advantages, and disadvantages, and it is ever-changing. Generally, fad diets promise short-term changes with little efforts and thus may lack educating consumers about whole-diet, whole lifestyle changes necessary for sustainable health benefices. Fad diets are often promoted with exaggerated claims, such as rapid weight loss of more than 1 kg/week or improving health by “detoxification”, or even dangerous claims, such as highly restrictive and nutritionally unbalanced food choices leading to malnutrition or eating non-food items like cotton wool. Highly restrictive fad diets should be avoided. At best, fad diets may offer novel and engaging ways to reduce calorie intake, but at worst they may be medically unsuitable to the individual, unsustainable, or even dangerous. Dietitian advice should be preferred before attempting any diet. Celebrity endorsements are frequently used to promote fad diets, which may generate significant revenue for the creators of the diets through the sale of associated products. Regardless of their evidence base, or lack of, fad diets are extremely popular, with over 1500 books published each year, and many consumers willing to pay an industry worth $35 billion/year in the USA. About 14-15% of Americans declare having used a fad diet for short-term weight loss. Although fad diets may have a negative connotation for health professionals, some have scientific pieces of evidence and therapeutic applications, such as the ketogenic diet for epilepsy or caloric restriction and the Mediterranean diet for obesity and diabetes, and several producing similar benefits to commercial diets or standard care when done under professional supervision.
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