The Real Deal With Waist Training

What you need to know about the latest weight-loss fad and how it can harm your health.

Posted on | By Dr. Nicole Florence, MD | Comments ()
Your Video is Loading

The Effects of Waist Training on the Body (3:23)

What if someone told you that you could lose weight and have a slim, hourglass figure without changing your lifestyle simply by wearing a piece of clothing? Does this sound too good to be true? That’s the basis for the newest trend in weight loss called "waist training."

Women have begun to wear corsets similar to those of the 1800s with hopes of forcing their waists into a desirable hourglass shape. They start by wearing the corset for a few hours and then gradually increase as tolerated up to 18 hours a day as well as during workouts in an attempt to lose inches from their waists as well as a few pounds in the process. But is this a proven and safe method for healthy weight loss?

The theory behind waist training is that the waist will begin to conform to the rigid shape of the garment. Over time, the hope is the body will maintain that shape and inches will be lost, creating a leaner and slimmer appearance. However, there is no evidence to show that this change will remain permanent without wearing the garment. There is also the theory that the stomach will be squeezed into a smaller shape, causing less hunger and less overall intake of calories with weight loss as a result. There is no clinical proof that this is effective or beneficial to a woman, and in fact, it may be harmful to a woman’s body over time.

Let’s explore the possible risks involved in this new diet trend. As a corset squeezes a woman’s outsides, it is also squeezing the insides. This pressure on the internal organs is a serious health concern. If the lungs are prevented from properly expanding, it can increase risk of pneumonia. As the stomach and colon are prevented from moving its contents, heartburn and chronic constipation can occur. Forcing the ribs and muscles into a tight and restrictive garment can cause chronic pain and bruising. The corset can also prevent return of blood flow to the heart, which can affect blood pressure and may result in dizziness and even fainting. Homes in the 18th century had "fainting couches" for this very reason.

What’s important to remember is that there is no perfect body, but there is a healthy body for each one of us. What is your goal? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to have a leaner and slimmer physique? There are many safe and proven ways to reach your individual goal and achieve the perfect-for-you healthy body. Make sure you are discussing your personal goals with your medical professional or weight loss team. They will point you in a healthy direction.

Article written by Dr. Nicole Florence, MD
Board-certified bariatrician and co-medical director of Memorial Weight Loss and Wellness Center.