The celebrities who are bad for our health

Heard the one about Cherly Cole's blood-group weight loss or David Beckham's hologram bracelet? We're used to reading about the weird and wonderful lengths that the stars go to in order to stay at the top of their game. But how much of it is based in fact and how much is science fiction?

Heard the one about Cherly Cole’s blood-group weight loss or David Beckham’s hologram bracelet? We’re used to reading about the weird and wonderful lengths that the stars go to in order to stay at the top of their game. But how much of it is based in fact and how much is science fiction?

Each year, the science charity Sense About Science names and shames the key celebrity offenders and puts the claims made about diets, cancer, magnets (yes, really!), radiation and more to the test.

Lindsay Hogg, assistant director of the charity, explains: ‘When people in the public eye give opinions about causes of disease, cures, diets, or products we should buy or avoid, their opinion goes worldwide in seconds. So if it’s scientifically wrong, we’re stuck with the fall-out from that.’

This year, Hogg and her team have seen the biggest rise in dubious theories, from Naomi Campbell’s maple syrup, lemon and pepper regime to Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding sprinkling charcoal over her meals. There was also David Beckham and Kate Middleton’s hologram bracelets that claim to improve energy and fitness.

One of the biggest celebrity fads of 2010 has been Cheryl Cole’s ‘blood group diet’, which inspired thousands of women around the UK, keen to emulate the svelte X Factor judge.

In an interview with Hello! magazine earlier this year, Cheryl said of her new regime: ‘It has made such a difference, not just to my shape but to how I feel and my energy levels.’ But the scientists disagree.

‘Blood groups cannot affect digestion or the way food is broken down,’ says dietician Sian Porter who has been working with the charity. ‘This theory is really just another spin on reducing overall calorie intake,’ she said.

‘It is surprising that Cheryl feels her energy levels have improved because cutting out food groups can lead to flagging energy levels.’

‘We’d like to see more celebrities checking out the science before they open their mouths,’ says Hogg and has distilled the scientists’ report into two old chestnuts:

 •  Nothing is chemical free: everything is made of chemicals, it’s just a case of which ones.
 •  Detox is a marketing myth: our body does it without pricey potions and detox diets.

So if you’ve been planning your New Year’s detox, it may be time for a rethink. Hogg also recommends two new lessons for 2011:

 •  There’s no need to boost: bodily functions occur without ‘boosting’.
 •  Energy and fitness come from food and exercise: there are no shortcuts.

Send us your tried and testes health tips for 2011 and let us know what you think in the comments box below.

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