The Feeding Tube Diet: A New Tool for Wedding Planners

Bridal Hunger Games

A New York Times story, entitled Bridal Hunger Games, discussed the extremes brides-to-be will endure to lose weight for their wedding day.

The story cites a 2007 Cornell University study by Lori Neighbors and Jeffery Sobal that found that 70% of brides-to-be wanted to lose weight before their wedding, and on average, they wanted to lose about 20 pounds.

Many will start diet plans, such as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. Others join bridal “boot camps” or enlist fitness coaches to burn off the calories.

But now, pre-wedding dieting has reached a new extreme: the “Feeding Tube Diet.”

A Florida physician, Dr. Oliver R. Di Pietro, claims that he can guarantee a weight loss of 10% body weight (approximately 20 pounds) in 10 days. He calls the plan the K-E Diet (short for Ketogenic Enteral Diet).

All you need to do is have a feeding tube inserted into your stomach and be hooked up to a continuous infusion through a pump for 10 days!

The solution, about 1 liter/day, consists of 800 calories of protein and fat, and is administered by a battery-operated pump which is toted around in bag or purse. The resulting ketosis is monitored by ketostix and the patient is expected to come to the office 3 times a week during the 10 day period. Nothing is permitted by mouth except water or unsweetened tea or coffee (without any additives).

The cost for this diet is $1499 for the 10-day course of treatment.

Dr. Di Pietro Explains

Ketogenic diets are nothing new

The history of “low carb” diets is painstaking documented in books by Gary Taubes who also describes their use in treating seizures, diabetes and other medical conditions.

For example, a low carbohydrate, high fat and protein diet was a textbook method used to treat patients with seizures (epilepsy) for many years. Dr. Elliot Joslin developed a ketogenic diet to treat diabetes in the 1920’s before the arrival of insulin. Comedian and game show host Drew Carey lost 80 pounds and essentially cured his Type-2 diabetes using a low carb diet.

Ketogenic diets fell out of favor after World War II due to the disruption of research caused by the war and also reactionary biases against German medical literature (see Food Fight Over Whether Hitler Made Us Fat).

Ketogenic diets were rediscovered and popularized in the 1960s by Dr. Robert Atkins. Every few years another version of the low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet is invented such as The South Beach Diet (known to publishers as “Atkins for Women”), The Paleolithic (or Paleo) Diet and, most recently The Dukan Diet which became a new fad after it was reported that Kate Middleton’s mother was using it to slim down for her daughter’s Royal Wedding to Prince William. Among existing commercial diet systems, Medi-Weightloss Clinics provide medically-supervised, ketogenic diet programs (without the necessity of a feeding tube).

What’s Next?

Of course, that feeding tube in your nose is rather unsightly. Perhaps the next innovation will be gastrostomy tubes, surgically implanted through the skin of the abdomen directly in the stomach, that can be hidden under clothing (the “G-Tube Diet”).

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

1 Comment

  1. Erik

    April 22, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Why stop at a feeding tube? Why not walk around with an IV? Maybe hook up electrodes to your head to shock your brain whenever you think of food? Hey, self lipo-surgery sounds good too.

    Seems what people really need is a little discipline and common sense.

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