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The price to pay for squeezing an ant's waist

Many women wear waist belts to have an ant waist, but experts warn that this can affect internal organs, digestion and skeletal muscles.

In order to fit Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress at the 2022 Met Gala, Kim Kardashian shared that she followed a strict regimen that helped reduce 7 kg in three weeks. Following this statement, the reality TV star was criticized by many for advocating unhealthy fat loss regimes. One of the measures opposed by the expert community is wearing a belly belt.

The waist belt is a type of bra that helps to fix the waistline, creating an hourglass shape by tightening the bust. This type of underwear became popular in the 2010s because of the promotion from stars and social media influencers, including the Kardashian family.

“They’re basically corsets. It’s sad to see people going back to the 1800s,” said Stephanie Faubion, director of the Mayo Clinic Women’s Health.

Advocates of corsets on social media claim that wearing the belt regularly, over a period of several months helps them to have a slimmer waist, hourglass figure and eat less, promoting weight loss. Many people even wear belly belts overnight.

However, experts say the benefits of this shirt have been overstated. According to Daisy Ayim, a Houston-based plastic surgeon and obstetrician-gynecologist, a person can wear a belt several hours a day while wearing tight suits to achieve a certain aesthetic purpose. However, belts won’t change the shape of your waistline in the long run.

Ayim says a person can passively lose weight while wearing a belt, but this weight loss is due to dehydration. Usually, tight, non-breathable clothing will stimulate perspiration. The amount of weight loss quickly returns if the wearer of the belt drinks rehydration, because sweating a lot does not burn belly fat.

Belly belts can’t reduce cravings either. In a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Preventive Health Care, experts tested whether wearing a belt could help volunteers maintain the weight they had previously gained through a low-calorie diet. The final author could not come to a conclusion, because the belts were so uncomfortable that the participants could not wear them for a long time.

Several types of belts are on the market specifically for women recovering from childbirth. According to a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, wearing a belly band after cesarean section helps reduce pain and prevent bleeding. In specific situations, belts and bras are beneficial, says Natalie Toshkoff, a pelvic floor physiotherapist in New York. It can provide a pleasant feeling, as a kind of clothing that supports the body.

Although studies are limited, many experts believe that regularly wearing a waist belt poses many risks.

First, the corset restricts breathing. According to Toshkoff, wearing a belt can force the movement of the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates the heart and lungs from other organs. The diaphragm contracts on inhalation and relaxes on exhalation.

“But when you’re wearing a corset, the body doesn’t complete those movements,” says Toshkoff. Long or repeated use of the corset is not good for breathing.

The waist belt is a type of pressure that helps to tighten the waistline, creating an hourglass figure. Photo: Shutterstock

The waist belt is a type of pressure that helps to tighten the waistline, creating an hourglass figure. Photo: Shutterstock

On social networks, many people share pictures of wearing a belt while exercising to lose weight faster. However, experts say this is extremely dangerous.

“You’re compressing your diaphragm. You can’t breathe deeply when you exercise. If you don’t get enough oxygen, you can pass out,” says Jennifer Wider, a women’s health specialist in New York City. know.

In addition, the belt affects internal organs, says Dena Barsoum, a physical therapist and rehabilitation specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Long-term use of corsets can cause organs to move to abnormal positions, even cutting off the blood flow that allows them to function properly. Experts cannot say whether these lesions are permanent or not.

Centuries ago, doctors recorded cases of patients suffering organ damage when wearing corsets. In research published in Cureus in 2020, experts say that wearing tight clothing can cause organ damage through “compression, bruising, and ischemia”.

Cardigans can also cause digestive problems, says Dena Barsoum, a physical therapist and rehabilitation specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. It causes constipation, preventing normal movement and the flow of matter through the intestines. Belt wearers can experience heartburn, because it puts pressure on the lower esophagus, causing reflux.

Belly belts can also weaken the musculoskeletal system. Normally, skeletal muscles become strong through activity. The belt holds the waist in a fixed position, then the muscles will not work. “Muscles weaken because they don’t have to do any work,” explains Barsoum.

To reduce waist circumference scientifically, experts recommend eating healthy, reducing the amount of carbohydrates, found in sugary drinks or cakes.

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