Waist Training weight loss trend raises concerns

With vacation season just around the corner, many people are now considering ways to slim down for warmer weather.  Dr. John Romanelli, the medical director of the Weight Loss Surgery Program at Baystate Medical Center, says, “The best way to lose weight is with diet and exercise.”  However, those seeking instant gratification are turning to the latest fad in quick-fix image enhancement:  “waist training.”


Waist training uses a corset or neoprene-like waist band to compress the stomach and waist area, worn throughout the day or during exercise.  Celebrity spokespeople claim waist training is a means to the perfect hourglass figure, and the trend is gaining traction on social media, leaving doctors concerned.


Dr. John Romanelli talks about his concerns about corsets and waist training, and what this trend may be doing to your body.


Potential dangers


Physicians believe that waist training could pose long-term health problems. One concern is that the corset may cause or worsen gastro-esophageal reflux. The external pressure from the corset can cause acid from the stomach to travel up into the esophagus, causing heartburn.  It can also cause unwanted stress on other internal organs.



Another concern is waist training during exercise.  When you exercise it is important to get oxygen to the tissues, especially the muscles.  Wearing a waist trainer can hinder you from taking a deep breath.  Impairing your breathing during strenuous exercise will increase lactic acid buildup, causing you to feel that burn sooner into the workout.


Does it work?


According to Dr. Romanelli, waist trainers could be a small help in the psychology of weight loss since the tightened corset makes you feel full faster. It has a similar effect to the laparosopic band technique used to constrict the stomach and reduce calorie intake, but instead of being around your stomach it’s around your waist.


However, this method is similar to tying a rubber band around your finger.    It appears thinner when the rubber band is on, but as soon as it’s removed it will go back to normal.  While it may create an appearance of weight loss when it’s on, expecting the corset to do the work for you is unrealistic.  Good food choices and regular exercise are far more important long-term strategies to shed pounds.




After pregnancy


After women give birth, their abdominal muscles are very thin and stretched out:  It can feel like they have an abdominal hernia for the first couple weeks after birth.  A waist trainer might be useful by giving new moms support until their muscles return to normal.  However, after your muscles return back, it’s best to discontinue use.


Dr. Romanelli advises plenty of caution in picking up diet tips from social media.   There are no long term medical studies on this information or randomized trials to assess long-term effects.  When in doubt, says Dr. Romanelli, ask your doctor.



For more information on the Weight Management Program at Baystate Medical Center, log on to https://www.baystatehealth.org/services/weight-management


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