Nutrition and health experts are urging Nigerians to be more careful with their use of waist trainers. Waist trainers are undergarments that create an hourglass figure by tightly compressing the waist.
According to the experts, prolonged wearing of waist trainers can cause constipation, and breathing difficulty.
While debunking the claim that waist trainers help reduce belly fat, the experts warned that they can also inadvertently reduce the function of the lungs.
The experts say the claim that waist trainers reduce belly fat is false and a matter of perception, affirming that when the waist trainers are taken off, the compressed belly bulge returns.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, one of the experts and a Registered Dietician-Nutritionist, Olusola Malomo, said wearing waist trainers could affect the internal organs of the body by shifting their natural positions.
Malomo who is a former National Publicity Secretary, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, explained,
“There is no scientific research whatsoever to back up such claims that wearing waist trainers reduces belly fat. it is a matter of perception.
“Based on the fact that as long as the trimmer or corset is on it gives an impression of an hourglass figure, however, the moment it is off, the body comes back to shape.
“There are dangers in the prolonged wearing of the waist trainer. One of them is breathing difficulty, particularly when used during exercise.”
According to Malomo, wearing waist trainers also reduces the function of the lungs. Giving further insight into the risk of wearing waist trainers, the nutritionist said,
“It can lead to the shrinking of the abdominal muscles because when you wear a waist trainer it replaces the functions of the abdominal muscles.
“This will result in a shrinking of the stomach but this does not mean there is a reduction in body fats
“It can also lead to the shifting of organs from the natural position either above or below. This causes discomfort, and often it causes constipation.
“It could reduce the volume of the stomach thus reducing the intake of food. However, this is not sustainable.
“For a post-pregnant woman, it could be dangerous and affect the healing process of uterus and stomach generally.”
Malomo also debunked the claim that consuming certain foods could melt belly fat. The nutritionist said:
“Some of this information on how to reduce belly fat are myths, fads, or fallacies. The concept of weight loss is simple.
“Now there is a formula called energy balance equation. That is; when what you eat is much more than the expenditure, you add up because there is a deficit. This is a positive energy balance.
“However, when what you eat is less than your energy expenditure this is a negative energy balance. This is the principle of weight loss. Just reduce intake and increase expenditure.”
The food expert pointed out that there is a recognised standard for measuring fat levels in the body through the use of the Body Mass Index which he said was recommended by the World Health Organisation.
According to him, the WHO-recommended standard of Anthropometric assessment is the BMI. This, he noted, is the sum of weight divided by the height squared. He added,
“If the calculation gives 18.5 to 25 it is termed normal, but if between 25 to 30 it’s termed overweight. if it falls between 30 to 35, it’s called obesity grade 1. If it’s between 35 to 40, it’s called obesity grade 2.
“However if it is above 40 this is called morbid obesity. So the target is to maintain a BMI of 18 to 29.5.”
Malomo listed excessive and regular intake of alcoholic beverages, beer, and eating late at night, among others as the things that cause fat.
According to him, eating fatty foods may take a long time before manifesting in hypertension, stroke, hypercholesterolemia, and other non-communicable diseases.
He urged people with belly fat to avoid nutrient-dense fried foods, meats, barbeque, fussy drinks, alcoholic beverages, beverages, sugary drinks, and dairy as well as poultry products.
The nutritionist also advised them to shun foods high in saturated fats, and fatty foods particularly animal fats, urging those battling obesity to work with a registered nutritionist.
He stressed that dealing with weight loss should be through a lifestyle approach, noting that there are no shortcuts to success.
In a 2020 study published in Cureus journal, the study authors warned that wearing restricting garments could contribute to organ damage by compression, bruising, and ischemia.
The Cureus Journal of Medical Science is an open-access general medical journal.
Corroborating Malomo’s views, a medical expert, Dr. Obinna Ossai said waist trainers don’t help women to lose belly fat.
Dr. Ossai said the best way to lose weight is through calorie deficit and exercise.
“People who get these waist trainers are made to believe that if they keep wearing the waist trainers all the time, they are going to lose the belly fat and it’s based on targeted weight loss but that’s a myth,”
the expert said.