08 Dec 2014

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) is today revealing its annual list of Top Celebrity Diets to Avoid in the New Year.  This year, making a brand new entry, the Urine Therapy Diet has taken the top slot, followed by the Paleo Diet at number two, the Sugar Free Diet at number three, the VB6 Diet at number four and completing the list this year is the Clay Cleanse Diet.

The British Dietetic Association, founded in 1936, is the professional association for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation's largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with over 7,500 members.  The BDA is also an active trade union.

That time of the year is just around the corner: The New Year.  The Christmas festivities have been and gone, the partying is a distant blur, everyone seems to have a case of the post-Christmas blues, and this year, yes this year, you will get the body of your dreams!  2015 is your time!  But how?

Yes, the New Year and January means a media frenzy of 'New Year, New You', which undoubtedly involves the latest magical ways to losing weight.  However, with so many diet books and celebrity-endorsed fitness DVDs on the market, how do you ensure you lose lbs, instead of £s.

The BDA receives literally hundreds of calls from the media every year on this subject and they come across a huge range of weird and whacky diets and diet claims.
Based on telephone calls and other contributing factors, here are the top 5 dodgy celeb diets to avoid in 2015:

Urine Therapy

Celebrity Link:  Bear Grylls has reportedly drunk his own urine (for his TV show).

What's it all about?  Urine Therapy, or urotherapy, includes the drinking of one's own urine for cosmetic or medical/wellbeing purposes.  Some claim that the urea component of urine can have an anti-cancer effect.

BDA Verdict:  Literally, don't take the proverbial!  Emergencies, only as Urine Therapy has no scientific evidence that it adds anything beneficial to the body and its safety has not been established.  As for any anti-cancer claims made in favour of Urine Therapy, this is simply not backed up by scientific studies.

Paleo Diet

Celebrity Link:  Miley Cyrus and Matthew McConaughey have reportedly followed this 'diet'.

What's it all about?  The Paleo diet (also known as the Paleolithic Diet, the Caveman diet and the Stone Age Diet) is a diet where only foods presumed to be available to Neanderthals in the prehistoric era are consumed and all other foods, such as dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, 'processed' oils, salt, and others like alcohol or coffee are excluded.

BDA Verdict:  Jurassic fad!  A diet with fewer processed foods, less sugar and salt is actually a good idea, but unless for medical reason, there is absolutely no need to cut any food group out of your diet.  In fact, by cutting out dairy completely from the diet, without very careful substitution, you could be in danger of compromising your bone health because of a lack of calcium.  An unbalanced, time consuming, socially isolating diet, which this could easily be, is a sure-fire way to develop nutrient deficiencies, which can compromise health and your relationship with food.

Sugar Free Diet

Celebrity Link:  Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin have reportedly followed this 'diet'.

What's it all about?  The Sugar Free Diet is when you exclude all types of sugar (and often all carbohydrates too) from your diet.

BDA Verdict:  Not a total sweetener for success!  We encourage cutting down on free sugars, adding sugar or products already containing added sugar, in addition to being label aware, because as a nation, we consume too much sugar on the whole.  Some versions of the Sugar Free Diet call for you to cut out all sugar from your diet which is not only almost impossible, but would mean cutting out foods like vegetables, fruit, dairy products, nuts – not exactly a healthy, balanced diet.  Also beware, substitutes some of these plans recommend like agave, palm sugar or honey, are actually just sugar in another form and a huge contradiction.

VB6 Diet

Celebrity Link:  Beyoncé and Dita Van Teeese have reportedly followed this 'diet'.

What's it all about?  The VB6 Diet (vegan before 6pm) of Chegan Diet (cheating vegan) is a diet that calls on you to follow a vegan eating plan most of the time/before 6pm, then after 6pm, nothing is off limits.

BDA Verdict:  VB careful!  By virtue, this should set you on course to eating during the day, at least, less processed food, more plant based foods like beans, pulses, wholegrains and nuts (watch your portion sizes) and much more fruit and vegetables which is a good thing overall as we should be aiming for at least 5 portion of fruit and veg a day and more fibre.  Having said that, following a vegan diet doesn't automatically translate into a healthy diet.  The danger here is, post-6pm becomes a window of opportunity to hoover up a myriad of foods high in calories, saturated fat and packed with added salt and sugar, undoing your earlier healthier choices.  The reality is, eating different food groups at different times of the day doesn't matter, in terms of your health, its nutritional balance that's important. 

The Clay Cleanse Diet

Celebrity Link:  Zoe Kravitz has reportedly followed this 'diet'.

What's it all about?  A spoon of clay a day will remove toxins from the body and remove negative isotopes, helping you detox and stay in shape

BDA Verdict:  Clay away from this diet!  The Food Standards Agency issued a warning about clay after high levels of lead and arsenic were discovered in products saying: 'We remind consumers, especially pregnant women, about the dangers of ingesting clay, clay-based detox drinks and supplements'. The whole idea of detox is nonsense. The body is a well-developed system that has its own built-in mechanisms to detoxify and remove waste and toxins. Nuff said!

BDA spokesperson and consultant dietitian, Sian Porter added:

"Every year in the BDA press office, we get call after call about all sorts of diets, from the weird and faddy right through to the downright dangerous, such as the Breatharian Diet that calls on people to live on fresh air and sunlight alone!  2014 has been no exception.

"It seems that as a nation we are constantly on the search for that magic bullet approach to losing weight, wanting a quick fix to give us the bodies we so often see on TV, in glossy magazines and adorning billboards up and down the UK. 

"Quite often the fad diets we come across come at a price.  Firstly, there can often be a cost to your health if you follow these diets over a period of time and secondly, there are often accompanying books, products, paid-for memberships or online services that can quickly add up.  The truth is, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

"When wanting to lose some weight, don't think about 'going on a diet' or just what changes you need to make over a month or two to lose the weight, think about what changes you need to make forever to lose that weight and, as importantly, keep it off.  An eating pattern for life should be the one you can stick to and include enjoyment, a rich variety of foods in appropriate portion sizes and moderation.  Go for the marathon approach rather than the sprint finish.

"2015 is almost upon us, with many people making New Year resolutions to lose.  Make the difference this time by losing it in a safe, robust and sustainable way.

"Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year from the British Dietetic Association."


For more information / interview requests, please contact Steven Jenkins at the BDA Press Office or telephone on 0800 048 1714.

Notes to the Editor:

  • Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual and wider public health level. Uniquely, dietitians use the most up to date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.
  • Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be statutorily regulated, and governed by an ethical code, to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. Dietitians work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media, public relations, publishing, Non Government Organisations and government. Their advice influences food and health policy across the spectrum from government, local communities and individuals.