The cotton wool 'diet': Experts weigh in on new eating disorder and its horrific side effects

Kim Easton Smith

Eating cotton wool is not a 'diet', it's a sign of an eating disorder, and people who do it are taking serious risks with their health.

That's the stark warning from health experts after a teen girl from the US uploaded a video of herself trying to eat cotton balls soaked in orange juice - a supposed tactic models use to stay thin.

We've heard tale of models doing all manner of unhealthy things to stave off hunger pangs and keep as super thin as required by the fashion industry and designer's sample sizes.

But we didn't realise the more bonkers and dangerous options were being copied by normal girls trying to conform to the skeletal stereotype.

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Bria Murphy, the 23-year-old daughter of Eddie, talked about her experience seeing other models chowing down on cotton wool to stay skinny. And she's not the first.

Tell-all books by models and other fashion insiders have referenced this strange behaviour and now it seems ordinary women are trying it to solve their own weight loss problems.

But this is far from a 'diet'. Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association, says to her it's a symptom of an eating disorder.

"When we talk about something like this we certainly aren't talking about health anymore. We're talking about weight and size and certainly something that is potentially very, very dangerous."

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Physical dangers

Besides the fact that not eating enough puts you at risk of all kinds of deficiencies and illnesses, eating cotton wool can wreck your insides.

Eating non-edible objects such as cotton wool can cause them to build up in your intestines forming a trapped mass called a bezoar. This can be life threatening.

There's also the chance of choking and suffering malnutrition. So all in all it's just a really terrible, terrible idea and if you or anyone you know does this, seek help immediately.