Chinese Women Are Staring at the Sun to Lose Weight

Every day, a group of women in Hong Kong head down to the beach to stare at the sun and cut their appetite.

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Sep 8 2015, 8:30pm

Sun worshippers in China are bringing a new meaning to the term "eating light."

Every day, a group of barefoot women descends upon the Sam Ka Village beach in Lei Yue Mun, Hong Kong, to stare at the sun for up to 44 minutes.

They are not tanning, but rather trying to "consume" the solar energy of the sun, according to ON.cc. That's because the women of Lei Yue Mun believe that the sun's nourishing rays can cut down on their appetite for calorific plant- or animal-based food.

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"We practice sun-gazing as a substitute for eating. Some of us who have finished the therapy now eat less, and others don't have to eat at all," one of the sun-gazers told ON.cc. But the supposed benefits go way beyond weight loss, with many sungazers believing that "eating sun" will increase intelligence and cure disease.

Despite making life on Earth possible and containing some vitamin D, sunlight contains far less nutritional value than normal food, as far as the human body is concerned. Not surprisingly, medical experts are worried about this kind of "diet" catching on.

Dermatology expert Hou Xiang Jun told ON.cc that he is concerned about this dieting trend, adding that "the subtropical region, high ultraviolet degree, and water reflection" can lead to dangerous levels of ultraviolet light absorption. And that's not including the general discomfort of blasting your retinas with radiation from the sun for over half an hour.

All of this has "dangerous fad diet" written all over it, but the practice of replacing normal food with sunlight has actually been around in Britain and the Unites States for the good part of a century.

Today, the main proponent of this this theory is a man named Hira Ratan Manek, who claims that he has not eaten normal food since 1995 and to live only on "sun energy" and water.

"Food makes us commit the maximum pain to others and exploit others," his website says. "Therefore, as you consume the original form of food, hunger goes down starting to disappear eventually. By eight months, you should see hunger almost gone."

But Manek and his followers aren't the only ones who claim to give up traditional nutrition in favor of "micro-foods" like air and the sun. "Breatharians", like real-life Barbie Doll Valeria Lukyanova, claim to live off of light and air alone, without the need for calories.

While there is no scientific data to back up Manek's claims of sunlight providing spiritual or nutritional wellness, the dangers of the sun are still very real. For dermatologist Hou Xiang Jun, who is very skeptical of the "sun eating" treatment, it's literally a matter of life or death.

"Even if painted [with sunscreen], they can only withstand 5 to 6 per cent of the damage, an umbrella or cap can only take ten to 20 per cent and long exposure, in addition to sunburn, will increase the risk of serious skin cancer."

In other words, unless you're a plant, your diet should probably include more than just sunlight and water.