For models and other celebrities that make a living from their looks, weight gain is a constant fear. Scheduled photo shoots create an immovable deadline to reach a goal size, realistic or not, and over the years, models have gained a reputation for doing whatever is needed to reach that goal. Unfortunately, some of their methods can endanger their health.
Ipecac syrup is an emetic; in other words, it causes vomiting. Many years ago, it was a standard part of home first-aid kits, to be taken in case of accidental poisoning. Now doctors recommend calling a Poison Control Center or doctor if poisoning is suspected, and it would seem that ipecac has no real medical use. It is now a drug of abuse, especially with anorexics and bulimics, as a means to force vomiting and lose weight. This is an extremely dangerous way to lose weight. It can cause seizures, respiratory problems, hemorrhaging, heart arrhythmias, and even cardiac arrest. The 1983 death of singer Karen Carpenter was attributed in part to ipecac abuse, which caused heart damage that led to her fatal heart attack.
Although they are useless for long-term weight loss, models sometimes turn to diuretics as a quick fix. It's true, diuretics can result in quick loss, but it's nothing more than a loss of water. Diuretics initially flush retained water out of the body, although within a few days the body will adjust to the medication and the effect will lessen. Continued use or increased dosages can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, putting the user at risk of kidney problems, pancreatitis, and cardiac arrest.
Laxatives also give a feeling of quick weight loss, but with dangerous risks and little long-term reward. Stimulant laxatives have no real effect on weight, because the calories have already been absorbed. Instead, the user feels lighter and less bloated because of the waste material and extra fluid that is flushed from the body. The feeling is only temporary. As soon as the laxatives are discontinued, the feeling of bloat and weight gain returns. Continued use of laxatives can lead to bloody diarrhea and dehydration, nausea, and abdominal pain. Long-term abuse can also cause the bowel to stop functioning, making it impossible to have a bowel movement without the use of a laxative.
Clenbuterol is actually a veterinary drug, used as a bronchodilator for horses, and is illegal for use in humans in the United States. According to "Star" magazine, Clenbuterol, also called Clen or the "Size Zero Pill," has become popular with models and actresses as a diet aid. It appears to work in a similar way as ephedrine, and has some of the same side effects—elevated blood pressure, jitters, and accelerated heart rate. As an unapproved drug, its long-term effects have not been well-researched, but some users have reported reactions similar to steroid abuse, and there are indications that the risks of extreme anxiety and panic attacks, heart attack, and stroke are all increased with its use.
Supporters of fasting claim many benefits beyond weight loss, both physical and mental. For most people, a two to three day juice fast, or even a water-only fast, is not dangerous, although it's always wise to consult a doctor before beginning any fast. But longer fasts can be dangerous. Immediate side effects can include headaches and dizziness, nausea, insomnia, and muscle aches. A fast of over four days is considered a long-term fast, and can cause severe health concerns as the body breaks down its own tissue for survival. Cholesterol levels rise along with the levels of uric acid in the blood, while insulin and thyroid hormone levels drop. Liver and kidney function may be impaired, and the bowels may stop functioning. Fasting also has an impact on the body's reaction to any drugs, whether prescription or over-the-counter. Long-term fasting should not be undertaken unless under a doctor's supervision.