Korean pop (K-pop) culture has a huge fan following, both in Korea and around the world. Heard of the boy band BTS or ever found yourself singing along to Baby Shark? Then you’ve experienced the global music phenomenon known as K-pop. Fans of K-pop show their love of the culture in myriad ways, from Cosplay to dieting methods. Enter the Paper Cup Diet. A fad diet that can harm your child’s health.
Popularized by the K-pop idol group Nine Muses, the paper cup diet first hit the scene during a 2013 episode of the Korean television series Star Beauty Show. It was here the girl group revealed their secret to achieving slim bodies in a short period of time — the Paper Cup Diet.
The elements of this fad diet: take three small paper cups and fill one with rice, one with fruit, and another cup with vegetables and/or meat, making sure not to stuff the cups or exceed the brim of the cups. Repeat three times a day. There’s no set length of time for the diet, but Nine Muses members reportedly stuck to it for five months.
As the popularity of K-pop grew, so did videos on YouTube about the Paper Cup Diet.
Most recently, YouTubers Lhakyila, ASHLELAYY,
Among the many issues with this diet — an extremely low caloric intake. In her video, Lhakyila says, “This diet is a mess. It’s making me starve.” Her advice, “Stick to clean eating.”
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, agrees. “This diet sounds like a horrible idea,” she tells Parentology. “For one, there are varying degrees of what size a small paper cup is—and the portion sizes that this diet entails can be on the scary low side.”
Gorin gives insight into what someone on the Paper Cup Diet might be consuming. An example of a typical meal using three-ounce cups: rice (110 calories), watermelon (25 calories), and steamed broccoli (less than 30 calories). By Gorin’s estimation, three meals in this vein rack up a mere 600 calories a day.
“You’re putting yourself in a very scary health place,” she says. Not only are dieters missing out on protein, which is needed to fuel many important processes within the body, but, “…you’re missing out on food groups such as dairy—and because of the lack of variety, you’d be missing out on many nutrients, too.”
Food restrictions can lead to health complications such as malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, fatigue and heart problems. Beyond physical health, fad diets and yo-yo dieting can set one up for a lifetime of food, weight, health and emotional issues.
Yes, kids get starry-eyed over pop stars. And, unfortunately, fad diets catch their attention. Perhaps Lhakyila’s take-away from her Paper Cup Diet will sway them in the right direction: “This diet is a mess. Stick to clean eating.”