Dieters in Hong Kong are being warned by government health officials about the dangers of swallowing parasitic worms, which can grow to up to 15 inches, in the hope of shedding fat. “The city's department of health said that Chinese-language websites have been offering products containing potentially fatal parasites as a means of losing weight quickly without eating less. The weight loss remedies use the eggs of Ascaris worms – giant intestinal roundworms which grow up to 15in in length in a host's intestine and lay up to 200,000 more eggs a day inside the body. A spokesman for Hong Kong's department of health said swallowing the parasites could cause abdominal pain and distension, vomiting, diarrhoea and malnutrition. ‘Parasite infestation may also be fatal if serious complications such as intestinal, biliary tract or pancreatic duct obstruction arise,’ the spokesman said. ‘The worms may even invade such organs as the lungs. The infestation can be treated with medication that kills the parasite. The worms may require surgical removal if there are obstructions.’ He urged people to consult doctors before dieting and said the only healthy and effective means of weight loss was to eat less and take regular exercise.”