Some crash dieters are losing track of the original reason for eating, to nourish the body, and are probably well on the way to becoming anorexics or bulimics, said Margaret Flynn Ph.D. with the Dairy Council of California.
"Some of these overzealous dieting programs may be starting people on the road to eating disorders, which have reached epidemic proportions," said Flynn, a professor of nutrition at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine.
Flynn cautions that dieters should be wary of any diet that severely limits the variety or quantity of foods eaten.
"The best way to achieve proper body weight and stay there is to eat from all four food groups in moderation," said Flynn. "Losing any one of the groups means losing essential nutrients and jeopardizing health."
Working with psychologists, Flynn advises patients with eating disorders not to be obsessed with thinness and to focus on good eating habits that lead to an optimal body weight.
"We try to get them to see that the reason for eating is to replenish the body, and that the right foods won't make you fat," Flynn said.