10 Worst Health Trends of 2014

10 worst health trends of 2014Every year brings with it new ways to lose weight, stay in shape and live forever. Some health trends work so well, they eventually move from craze to mainstream, think Weight Watchers and yoga. Others, deservedly move from the fashionable to foolish category very quickly, think electric ab belts and vibrating weights. Still others, because they are actually dangerous, should have never become a trend in the first place. So, if like millions of other Americans, your New Year’s resolution is to get in shape or lose weight, be cautious of jumping on any bandwagon, especially those promising miracles. Here are the worst health trends of 2014.


  1. The Paleo Diet. Also known as the caveman diet, it not only restricts nutrition to that which was available to our cavemen ancestors (nuts berries, non-starchy vegetables, protein — no dairy, no carbs) it has believers working out with logs and boulders. It is not without merit, because any diet low on carbs, and high on activity will work, but for those who cherish the benefits of evolution, it can be less than satisfying. It is incredibly hard to maintain, runs the strong risk of nutritional deficit and is very restrictive. Focus on Paleo’s healthy aspects, lean protein, fewer carbs, increased fruits and vegetables, but stay out of the cave.
  2. Caffeine to lose weight. While there is some evidence products like green coffee bean extract and caffeine powder can supplement weight loss, for many people the health risk is too great. Caffeine in any form increases heart rate and can cause cardiac arrhythmias. Available in pill and powder form, it is easy to see how these supplements can be abused. An overdose can be lethal, and depending on the person, even a little may be too much. Keep supplements like these away from kids and teens, and check with your doctor before using.
  3. Crossfit for the masses – In its truest sense, this is a great exercise option for the extremely conditioned athlete, but the majority of people should not jump to Crossfit as their workout of choice in the new year. This is not to say you can’t work up to the level of fitness required, but be very careful about doing too much too soon. Risks include not only injury to muscles and joints, but rhabdomyolysis, a severe breakdown of the muscle resulting in kidney damage. If Crossfit sounds appealing to you, just be cautious and give it a try with a trained instructor to start.
  4. Gluten free for weight loss – A very serious problem for those with Celiac disease, recently gluten has been demonized as causing weight gain. For this reason, many people are cutting gluten out of their diet. Some people have a true gluten intolerance, and restricting gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye) may give them more energy, benefit digestion and even improve mood. However, most people can consume gluten without a problem, and those who cut it out for weight loss reasons, often gain weight. Gluten substitutes can be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Gluten free foods are not inherently healthy, and whole grains are part of a healthy balanced diet. If you think you have an issue with gluten, get tested before you make a massive, expensive dietary change.
  5. Expensive personalized training – There is a huge trend toward individual, personalized physical training. The benefits are obvious: safety, motivation, individualized attention. But, for the majority of people, personal trainers are a luxury. Before you spend the money, try:
  • Scheduling work outs with a friend for motivation
  • take group classes for the benefit of an instructor
  • set your personal exercise goals and take active, directed steps toward achieving these goals
  1. Vibrating machines of any kind. Good Vibrations certainly have their place, but there is no evidence to support these machines are beneficial for weight loss or fitness.
  2. Waffles – This yummy breakfast food is the latest in hand held treats, threatening to make donuts and cupcakes a thing of the past. Just because they are trending, delicious, and easy to grab does not mean they have a place in a healthy lifestyle. Save them for a special occasion.
  3. Cosmetic genitoplasty – Plastic surgeons are receiving more and more requests for this surgery which alters the genitalia of women who are concerned about the size and shape of their vulvas. Like male genitalia, there is a huge variation in what is perfectly normal, but somehow, our superficial society has established a metric for the correct vagina. Not only does the surgery carry inherent risk, but the issue is more often psychological than anatomical. Breast augmentation, tummy tucks, now this. Where does it end? Let me save you the time, pain and money. Your genitalia is perfect just the way it is.
  4. Tech fitness – You can monitor your heart rate, your steps, your stress level and your calories burned, but the technology can’t do the work for you. For those with a healthy attitude toward their bodies and fitness, I am sure these gadgets are a nice way to track a workout/weight loss regimen. But, be cautious. If your gadget is causing you anxiety, if you are obsessed with the data it reveals or if you are confusing wearing healthy technology with actually being healthy, take it off and go back to the only tried and true method. Move more, eat less.
  5. A thigh gap as the holy grail of nice legs. Not everyone is physically capable of achieving a gap between their thighs, and this space is by no means an indication of a healthy body weight. Make your goal a healthy BMI (you can check it here) and self acceptance, rather than an empty space. The sooner we all realize we cannot look like supermodels, the happier we will be.

In 2015, resolve to live a healthy life, free from extreme diets and workouts, free from self criticism and unrealistic expectations. Don’t be fooled by promises of quick results. Rather, find what actually works for you and stick with it.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


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