Japanese go bananas for new diet

Banana republic ... Japanese slimmers are bent on the banana diet.
Photo: Tanya Lake

Mindy Laube
October 20, 2008

A new diet said to result in fast, stress-free weight loss has taken Japan by 

The Morning Banana Diet is possibly the world's easist diet to follow - except 
in Japan where its intense popularity has led to the nation's worst-ever banana 

Banana importer, Dole Japan Company, has increased supplies by 25 per cent over 
the corresponding period last year but is still struggling to meet demand. 
Consequently, banana prices are soaring but with the celebrity endorsements and 
more than 600,000 copies of the diet books sold, demand for the fruit shows no 
signs of slowing. 

Adherents of the diet love it for its simplicity and reported success.

Essentially, the regimen requires dieters to start the day with a raw banana 
and a glass of room-temperature water. After that, they're free to eat whatever 
they want for the rest of the day - except for sweets. Desserts with meals are 
banned and just one sweet snack in the mid-afternoon is allowed. Alcohol 
consumption is discouraged and early dinners (before 8pm) and taking to bed 
before midnight are the diet's only other strictures.

But perhaps the diet's greatest appeal lies in its laissez-faire approach to 
exercise. It counsels weight-watchers to work out only if they want to and then 
to exert themselves in the least stressful way possible.

The craze reached a new zenith last month when the Tokyo Broadcasting System 
aired a television program in which the very hefty former Japanese opera singer 
Kumiko Mori attributed a sudden seven-kilo weight loss to the diet. Bananas 
have been in scarce supply on Japanese supermarket shelves ever since.

The Morning Banana Diet was developed by an Osaka pharmacist with a keen 
interest in Chinese herbal medicine. Sumiko Watanabe devised the dietary regime 
for her husband, who had become exasperated by his inability to lose weight by 
more orthodox means. Mr Watanabe is now a lean 59 kilos at 175 centimetres and 
attributes the diet's magic to its stress-free approach.

Nutritionists are divided on the efficacy of the diet but bananas are a rich 
source of resistant starch, a type of fibre found in carbohydrate-dense foods 
such as potatoes, corn, barley and bananas - especially slightly unripe fruit. 
The indigestible starch is being touted as a wonder diet food by advocates as 
it is said to help induce feelings of saiety and increase the body's 
fat-burning capacity.


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