Waist-trainers: a good way to slim down or dangerous?

Celebrities swear by them but experts warn of the risks

Waist Training Is A Bad Idea

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jessica Alba swear by them, but can wearing a modern-day corset really give you a trim, hourglass figure - or are they a danger to your health? Read on for the truth about the latest weight loss craze...

See also: What older women should eat to lose weight

See also: Best low-calorie foods to fill you up

You might have seen adverts for extremely tight corsets – commonly called waist-shapers, waist-trainers or waist-cinchers – but should you believe the hype?

Sellers of the garments claim that waist-training – typically wearing a tight corset for eight hours a day for 30 days – encourages your body to 'reform' to the new shape. As the corset physically restricts your stomach, it's claimed that overeating is impossible, which in turn leads to weight loss.

Candace Smith, who's based in the US, started selling waist shapers after reportedly losing 50 pounds using one, while also dieting and exercising.

Fitting a new waist-trainer to a customer, she said: "As we begin to snap it up... it's going to start to shape with her body, and her body will start to conform to this garment which means that the fat that's here will continue to train itself, so it's no longer there."

Health dangers
Like many health experts, Nurse Practitioner Stacey Powell is unconvinced. While wearing a corset for an evening is fine, she warns against using one for eight hours or more a day.

Wearing a compression garment around your stomach may lead to bowel discomfort and other problems, such as reflux disorders and heart burn, she said.

As well as crushing your internal organs, wearing a tight corset can result in breathing problems and prevent return of blood flow to the heart, which can affect blood pressure and may result in dizziness and fainting. There's a reason why women swooned so much in the 18th and 19th centuries and needed "fainting couches".

Diet and exercise
Experts say there is no evidence to suggest that wearing a corset will magically retrain your fat or make it disappear – it has to be pushed somewhere, and as soon as you remove the garment your body will go back to normal.

To lose fat from your middle, you need to eat fewer calories and exercise more. And if you want a more defined waist, invest in Belly Blitz exercise DVD and do core exercises like planks and twisting crunches.

See our pick of the 20 best weight loss aids and fitness gadgets...