The fitness industry in Hong Kong is big. This is because of the increasing obesity rate in the country due to sedentary lifestyle, fast food availability, and long working hours. Hong Kong locals have tried a lot of weight loss innovations available including diet pills, body suits, exercise machines, fat-burning soap, and just about anything.
A new weight loss craze in Hong Kong is the ingestion of the eggs of a certain parasitic worm called Ascaris (Ascaris Lumbricoides). Health Officials confirmed the news and further explained that a certain Chinese-language website has been promoting the use of products that contain worm eggs that promises fast weight loss results.
A representative from the Hong Kong’s Department of Health said that there is no supporting study or solid evidence that the use of parasitic worms is an effective way of losing weight. Though one of the signs of Ascaris infestation is weight loss, this effect happens at a later stage where these worms can do more harm on the body than good.
The health officer further explained that Ascaris Lumbricoides or commonly called as roundworm is a giant intestinal parasitic worm that could grow up to 15 to 35 inches long and could produce more than 200,000 eggs per day inside the body. Furthermore, these worms could cause diarrhea, stomach pain, distention, and malnutrition because they eat up most of the nutrients from the body and could lacerate intestinal walls using their sharp teeth.
With their uncontrollable population growth, these worms could roll up in a ball also called as “Ascaris bolus” that could cause an obstruction on the intestinal, biliary, and pancreatic ducts. Obstructions on these pathways cause serious complications which can be fatal. Moreover, these worms could migrate to other parts of the body like the lungs, causing respiratory problems.
The DOH-HK spokesman urged the people to consult a health professional before starting on any “special” diet so people will know the pros, cons and risks of that particular weight loss program. He also added that eating less and exercising more is still the healthiest and most effective means of losing weight.
For those who have already ingested the eggs or have Ascaris adults living in their intestines, you would need to contact your nearest healthcare provider or the DOH-HK immediately for de-worming and counseling. However, for worse cases of infestation, the patient may need to undergo a surgery for manual removal of the worms.