Vaporub and cling wrap: This dieting trend doesn't pass the truth test

Published: May. 31, 2019 at 5:44 PM CDT
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"I wasn't really an athlete or into sports when I was in high school or elementary school," says Jamie Smith, the Group Exercise Director at Courts Plus.

Going to the gym wasn't always natural for Smith, but over time it got easier.

"I just liked the way that I felt after class," she says.

Now, she helps others embrace healthier lifestyles, but not everyone is willing or able to put in the work - and that's where diet fads and health hacks come in.

"The cabbage diet, the lemon diet. It's just off the wall. And not healthy, typically," says Smith. "Sometimes I'll try things just so I can tell my clients that I've tried them and that they're pointless."

One new trend uses Vaporub and cling wrap to 'burn fat.' Users say they put Vaporub on their trouble spots, wrap it up in the cling wrap, and leave it on while exercising or sleeping. Not only do they say the trick burns fat, but it firms your skin, and gets rid of cellulite.

So I asked the professionals - does it work, and is it safe?

"Anytime we apply a chemical on the skin, it's being absorbed. And so when we're using large amounts of this vapor rub, per say, not only is it harmful to the organs in the body – but also, we're breathing that in in excess," says Kayce Sorenson, LPN, the Spa Manager at Catalyst Medical Center & Clinical Spa.

Sorenson also says the trick won't give you lasting results.

"With the whole wrap theory, all we're really doing is dehydrating the cells. And so it's very temporary – not a permanent reduction," Sorenson says.

While the health hack falls short, there are safe and effective options for people looking for help.

"Two treatments that I can think of would be EMsculpt, which we have right here, as well as Coolsculpting," says Sorenson. "EMSculpt is the newest treatment out there. We're going to get an instantaneous muscle build, instantaneous definition, and over a three month period of time – we're going to see fat loss of about 17%."

But if you want a way to keep the fat away for good - Smith says there's really only way.

"The only way to lose inches and lose body fat is through exercise and diet. I mean, that's really the only way of doing it," Smith says.

We did ask P&G, the makers of Vicks Vaporub, about the trend. In a statement, the company says it does not endorse any inappropriate use of its products.