A dangerous new trend: the 'Cotton Ball Diet'

RAW - Jessica's interview with Elizabeth Paff
Published: Feb. 5, 2014 at 3:02 AM EST
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - It's a dangerous new diet trend called the 'cotton ball diet' and it's exactly what it sounds like.

Young people are eating cotton balls to lose weight.

It might sound harmless to teens, eating cotton balls to kill your appetite. However, experts say it could land you in the hospital for emergency surgery or even worse.

Still, this new diet trend is growing in popularity as young girls and some boys try to find quick and extreme ways to lose weight.

Teens say it makes them feel full without all of the calories.

The new deadly diet trend is growing popular with teens, that even Beyonce is raising awareness of the problem in her new music video.

"They feel like they have to find a means to establish that look or image and are willing to do whatever it takes," says Doctor Scott Bullock.

Bullock, with the Lindner Center of Hope, works with young women and men who are dealing with eating disorders. They say this new diet is dangerous.

"People can die very quickly from this," explains Bullock. "Cotton balls will collect and not break down.  They are made of synthetic fibers."

Doctors say these fibers could block your intestines.

"By the time somebody realizes what's going on and what's happened, it's too late," adds Bullock.

Elizabeth Paff, 21, says turning to cotton balls or any extreme way to lose weight.

"You can see my cheeks are sunken in," says Paff. "Once you start, it just goes and it won't stop. It's like you have another person living inside of you telling you that you can't eat that."

Paff says for her, it was excessive exercise and dieting

"Everything revolved around food," says Paff. "I thought about food and I dreamt about food."

Within a year it took over. Standing at 5-foot-7, she dropped to 90 pounds

"I almost didn't make it," says Paff.

Now, one-year later Paff is on a much healthier track. However, she's quick to notice young girls going down her old path and has this message.

"It's not worth it. It's not worth your life," says Paff. "No diet, no exercise is not worth your life. There's a way to be healthy without going extreme with it."

Scott Bullock with Lindner Center of Hope says there are signs someone has an eating disorder.

For example, if they are preoccupied with body shape or weight, rigorous dieting or avoiding eating in public are a few.

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