A diet that sounds too crazy to be true is making shock waves around the country.
Eating cotton balls -- as many as five at a time – is done in an effort to curb hunger and drop pounds.
Some models admit they do it and it seems like the behavior is catching on with consequences.
This diet is dangerous on so many levels. It's a quick fix that could have life-long repercussions.
Videos on eating cotton balls are taking the web by storm.
Orange juice, slushies, whatever - Ashley Grizzard says they're recipes for disaster.
"People just don't have that awareness about the seriousness of it," she says.
Grizzard is only healthy today because she won her battle with anorexia, but it took six months and time in the hospital for her to get here.
At 17, she started dieting. It soon spiraled out of control.
Once Grizzard started losing weight, she couldn't and didn't want to stop.
"It doesn't take long to stand on the quick sand and get sunk and then you can't get out," says Dr. Elliott Spanier.
Spanier says following the cotton ball diet can lead to full-blown eating disorders for some. Others could have medical problems.
For starters, it's not a high-fiber plan as promised. Many cotton balls are synthetics that can cause intestinal blockage.
"Somebody could need surgery," Spanier says. "There may be long-term complications."
"Who does that?" says anorexia and bulimia survivor Katie Locks. "That's not something you should eat."
Issues with food started for locks in 7th grade.
It took her until her early 30s to fully recover from anorexia and bulimia.
"I keep one pair of jeans from when I was that small and when I was that sick and I keep them to remind myself that you just don't want to be there again."
Locks says these videos are reckless and extreme dieting will never be the answer.
"There's something so much bigger than the fact that they want to lose weight because that's not going to fix it for them either. That's where people need to work on the inside out."
The National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders says almost 50 percent of people with eating disorders are depressed and more people die from these mental illnesses than any other.
"The belief you're going to have is ‘I'm going to get away with it,' but not everybody does," Spanier says.
"The risk is too great. You're putting your medical and mental health at stake," Grizzard says.
Every year, Grizzard lobbies for legislation helping eating disorder patients at the Virginia General Assembly and she hopes one day there's a crackdown on information and images like these that are ammunition to the vulnerable.
"I don't know if we can prevent it," Spanier says. "That's part of the problem. How do you police YouTube?"
Some of the videos have been pulled down on YouTube after getting a lot of backlash. Dr. Spanier says anyone who's dealing with these kinds of eating issues needs to get help. It can be a matter of life or death.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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