"Cotton ball diet" a dangerous trend among teens, experts say - FOX Carolina 21

"Cotton ball diet" a dangerous trend among teens, experts say

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

With the mixed messages about body image and weight control teens see on a daily basis on the Internet, bizarre fads and dangerous weight loss trends are common today.

The latest is the "cotton ball diet." It is exactly what it sounds like. Some teens are actually eating cotton balls to trick their stomachs into feeling full. Many soak the balls in a flavorful liquid such as orange juice, and then eat them.

Experts in the Upstate said it's a dangerous trend.

"The diet started becoming very popular after Eddie Murphy's daughter kind of blew the lid off of it by mentioning that her modeling friends had been doing it for years," said Heidi Moss, an eating disorder consultant based out of Spartanburg.

"[Teens are] trying to get that feeling of fulness to avoid calorie intake," said Ella Walker Henderson, who runs Living Bread, a nonprofit that specializes in helping young women cope with eating disorders and negative body image.

They said the trend is common among models to maintain their weight. What teens who find out about it don't realize is that cotton balls are not only made of cotton. Other dangerous materials can block their intestines.

"It's polyester, it's dyes, it's chemicals, it's like eating your shirt," Moss said. "It can cause immediate suffocation, choking; it can cause severe malnutrition and it can also cause intestinal blockage."

It can be seen on YouTube as the "cotton ball challenge." It is regarded usually as a joke or a dare, but some teens are actually using the joke for something much more serious.

Experts say if your teen is experimenting with this dangerous trend, it's time for a talk.

"Talk to them, tell them that you're worried about them," said Moss.

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