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Video: Is using a feeding tube to lose weight safe?

  1. Transcript of: Is using a feeding tube to lose weight safe?

    GUTHRIE: In your line of work I suppose you've seen it all. Where does this feeding tube diet rank in terms of unusual fad diets?

    Dr. ARONNE: This is nowhere. This has a very high yuck factor. It is much too severe for people to consider, in my -- in my opinion. Really, this is not something that should be done.

    GUTHRIE: Dr. Raj , you agree? Is this something that's just off limits?

    Dr. RAJ: I totally agree. I mean, we use feeding tubes in the hospital for very ill patients...

    Dr. ARONNE: Mm-hmm.

    Dr. RAJ: ...for post-surgical patients. But even then we think twice about it. There are risks to having a feeding in your nose, in your stomach. It can cause erosions, it can cause bleeding. And the fact that people would do this knowing that it's so temporary, it's so extreme, there's going to be no long-term benefit, you have to think about the psychological factors going into this decision.

    GUTHRIE: I do want to talk about that in a moment. But what -- I mean, in your mind, Doctor, what is the worst-case scenario of something that could go wrong with this?

    Dr. ARONNE: You could have side effects . And they're minimized in the doctor's mind, but people can get dehydrated, have severe constipation. And what is lost is mainly water and muscle. So when you first start losing weight you don't lose fat, you're actually losing water and muscle.

    GUTHRIE: Let me be a devil's advocate here for a moment because some doctors do perform this procedure, as we just saw. They monitor the patient closely for 10 days. They are getting calories, 800, enough to subsist. It appears to provide some results. So what's the harm if it's just for this 10 days?

    Dr. RAJ: Well, first of all, they're saying they're monitoring the patient. The patient is not in a hospital being monitored, so I -- you know, I was reading their website. They check in maybe every three days. Eight hundred calories is very low. To say that that's sort of enough to subsist, well, you are going to start to break down parts of your body that you need. And you don't -- when you get 800 calories through food, you absorb it much better than when it's through a liquid form going into your stomach. So there are a lot of potential side effects . What this doctor just mentioned, in addition, kidney stones, gout. All these can -- things can happen with this kind of diet.

    GUTHRIE: And Dr. Raj kind of touched on this, Dr. Aronne . I mean, do you think it says something about the mindset of somebody who's willing to go to these lengths of walking around for 10 days with a feeding tube up her nose?

    Dr. ARONNE: Well, if someone wants to lose weight before their wedding, they just need to start a little bit earlier. You're not really going to get anything useful doing this for 10 days.

    GUTHRIE: All right, Dr. Aronne and Dr. Raj . Thank you so much . It's interesting information. Appreciate it.

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