Hong Kong health officials Tuesday warned would-be slimmers not to consume parasitic worms in an attempt to lose weight following adverts for products containing worm eggs.
A health department spokesman said there was no scientific evidence that infestation with ascaris, a parasitic worm which lives in the intestine, was a way to lose weight.
He warned that worm infestations caused pain, vomiting and diarrhoea and could prove difficult to get rid of.
"Ascaris infestation may also be fatal due to serious complications in human bodies such as intestinal, biliary tract or pancreatic duct obstruction. The worms may invade such organs as the lungs," he said.
"The infestation can be treated with medication that kills the parasite. Surgical removal of the worms may be required in case of obstruction."
The health department said it issued the warning following reports that a product containing worm eggs was being promoted as a slimming aid on a commercial website.
Ascaris is the most common worm infection in humans and is mostly found in tropical areas where sanitation and hygiene are poor. Adult worms can grow to more than 30 centimetres (one foot) long.