health

The Kardashians are hooked on this very damaging weight loss trend.

Image: Kim, Kourtney and Khloe are big fans of waist training (via Instagram)

UPDATE: The family that embraces fitness fads together, stays together — that seems to be how it goes for the Kardashians, anyway.

Earlier this week, Kim Kardashian took yet another opportunity to spruik waist training as a means of staying in shape. For the uninitiated, waist training involves wearing a modern take on the corset to define and slim the waist. But more on that later.

Kim, 34, posted the following photo on her Instagram, writing, “Organizing & cleaning up before bed and waist training at the same time! Thank you to the one and only @premadonna87 @pre_shop #Premadonna87 #whatsawaist.com”

This comes two weeks after her sister Kourtney (top photo, middle) gave her Instagram followers a behind the scenes look at her workout regimen. "Starting my Monday with a little waist training before I go to the gym! #onamission #waistgangsociety" she wrote.

By #waisthgangsociety we assume she means her entire family, because Khloe has been getting in on the action too. We can only assume a line of Kardashian waist training corsets is forthcoming.

If you think this all sounds like a Victorian Era throwback, we can't blame you. However, the trend seems to be picking up momentum; according to reports this week, there's been a 54 per cent increase in the sale of corsets online. Read on to find out why this trend mightn't be great news for your body...

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We previously reported:

How far would you go to slim down your waistline? Would you go on a diet? Cut out all processed foods? Start exercising more?

Or would you stock up on steel-boned corsets and start wearing one – or two – every single day, even while you slept?

Don't laugh. It may be a slimming method that's straight out of the Victorian era, but waist training is alive and well in 2014 - and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Jessica Alba are jumping on and endorsing the primitive bandwagon.

Exercise corsets by Hourglass Angel

Kimmy K – who already has quite the hourglass shape – posted an Instagram photo last week, featuring her body wrapped up in a purple corset. She hashtagged it with #waisttraining, making it clear that the corset is being used as a weight loss mechanism and not as a special surprise for Kanye.

Presumably, Kim has been inspired by her sister, Khloe Kardashian. In May this year, Khloe posted her own Instagram selfie, featuring her waist wrapped up in a black corset waist trainer, and captioning it with the inspirational: "Who doesn't love to feel tight and right?!?"

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The celebrity list doesn't end there. Jessica Alba has previously admitted to Net-A-Porter magazine that she wore two corsets at a time to regain her toned body after pregnancy - she told the magazine it was "brutal" and "sweaty but WORTH IT". This, incidentally, is coming from the same celebrity who wrote an entire book about healthy, natural living.

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Dita von Teese is also a fan of waist training, and so is Gabi Grecko (Geoffrey Edelsten's new girlfriend). Grecko even told the Daily Mail Australia that she sleeps in her corset every night. [post continues after gallery]

Generally, for corset training to be effective, a minimum of eight hours wearing time per day is suggested, although some women keep theirs on for 23 or 24 hours. Over time, the corset pushes down internal organs, and pushes ribs together – resulting in a smaller waist that accentuates the boobs and the bum.

It can take years to see a result. And, as you can imagine, it isn't particularly good for you.

Australian GP, Dr Joo-Inn Chew, calls it a "scary throwback fad" that won't do you health and favours at all:

"I'm concerned about the health risks of waist training, for prolonged periods especially. Corsets only allow shallow breathing, which can lead to hyperventilation, dizziness and fainting. They compress the stomach and intestines, which could cause gastro-oesophageal reflux and constipation. If worn longer term they could weaken core muscles, leading to back pain and pelvic floor weakness. If laced too tight they could even crack ribs or bruise skin or internal organs."

Yes, you read that right. Longterm waist training leads to "pelvic floor weakness" – it might make you pee your pants.

However, all of these issues – as well as the general discomfort associated with wearing a corset 23 hours per day – don't seem to be deterring young women, who are increasingly searching to buy waist trainers online.

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It's also opened up an avenue for entrepreneurs to start waist-training businesses. Premadonna is one of these women. The single mother of two children started waist training because she wanted to lose weight, but didn't have time for exercising. Now she sells her waist trainers to everyone – particularly to celebrities.

And while it may work well on some women, the side effects are definitely questionable – and the amount of effort required is absolutely ridiculous. There is nothing reasonable about spending the majority of your days tied up into a super-tight corset, simply to reduce your waist by a few inches.

Of course, you may really want to slim down your waist – and that's perfectly fine. But there are far healthier ways to do so.

"Working on a healthy diet, exercise, core muscle strengthening and good posture are better ways to slim your waist – and they will deliver health benefits as well as a smaller waist," Dr Chew points out.

Stop shopping for corsets, stock up on veggies and incorporate some more planks into your workout routine, and you'll be well on your way to getting a slimmer waist without potentially ruining your body's vital organs.

What do you think of waist training?

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