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article imageJapanese Go Bananas For Bananas

By Chris V. Thangham     Oct 17, 2008 in Health
Japanese are following a new diet craze: the “Morning Banana Diet.” Due to their newfound love of this fruit, the country is running out of bananas.

'Morning Banana Diet'
The “Morning Banana Diet” was created by Sumiko Watanabe, a pharmacist in Osaka. She created this special stress-free diet to help the metabolism for her husband Hitoshi Watanabe, who was slightly overweight. According to Sumiko, her husband lost 37 pounds thanks to the diet.
Watanabe later introduced this diet in Mixi, one of largest social networks in Japan. Since then, the popularity of the diet has skyrocketed: more than 730,000 copies of Morning Diet books have been published since March. It has also been translated into other languages and published in South Korea and Taiwan.
What is “The Morning Banana Diet”?
It consists of the following:
A banana (or as many as you want) and room temperature water for breakfast; eat anything you like for lunch and dinner (by 8 p.m.). A three o'clock snack is okay, but no desserts after meals, and you have to go to bed before midnight.
And this diet became even more popular when one of theT V programs featuring a singer claimed that she lost more than 15 pounds. Stores ran out of bananas very quickly this summer, where the demand is usually not as hot compared to other seasons, according to Dole Japan.
Japanese people who want to follow this special diet are mad that they are unable to get bananas in stores. One Keiko Akai, who has never weighed more than 100 pounds and wants to follow this “Morning Banana Diet” told Time Magazine that she couldn’t find bananas for the last month in stores. Akai has a slim waist and wears small size skirts but she still wants to follow this diet.
Dole Japan plans to increase the supply but said it will take time.
Others think this new diet is a fad like others and will run out its course soon. Professor Masahiko Okada of Niigata University School of Medicine is one of them. He said instead of following one diet, people should maintain a balance of three essential nutrients: carbohydrates, fat and protein. It doesn’t matter which food they take, be it a konnyaku (alimentary yam paste) or a banana diet, as long it meets that balance.
In Japan, many fad diets have come and gone -- in the 1970s, there was a special diet including tea fungus, oolong tea and konnyaku. In the 1980s, there was baby formula, banana and boiled egg. In the 1990’s there was apple, nata de coco, cocoa and chili pepper. And in this decade there was black vinegar, carrot juice, soy milk, beer yeast and toasted soybean flour (kinako). Last year there was the fermented soybean (natto) diet.
Based on the above trends, Tomoyuki Horiuchi, sales representative of Tokyo Seika Boeki Co., Ltd., fruit and vegetables wholesale company predicts that this “Morning Banana Diet” will become a fad as well. Horiuchi told Time Magazine: "In the past, there were all kinds of hit diets. But they never last, do they? So, we don't really want to end up with an uncontrollable banana surplus."
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