TikTok mom sparks controversy for putting her children on a keto diet

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Photo via @houseofketo TikTok
Photo via @houseofketo TikTok

A mom on TikTok is being criticized after revealing that she has put two children on a keto diet.

Abby Durlewanger, known as @houseofketo on TikTok, has amassed a social media following dedicated to the health benefits of the ketogenic diet. Recently, Durlewanger revealed that her 11-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son are following the diet that trains the body to use fat instead of carbohydrates as a source of energy through a process called ketosis.

Earlier this month, Durlewanger shared a video to TikTok sharing keto-friendly snacks she includes in her oldest child's lunchbox. Although the clip has gone viral, earning more than 8.5 million views, it has sparked a major debate about whether or not children should be dieting in the first place.

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"My 11-year-old’s keto and this is what I made her for lunch," she explains in the video, adding that the watermelon is a "surprise" treat for her daughter. “Typically we don’t include watermelon in our regular everyday ketogenic lifestyle [because it contains] more carbs and sugar than we would normally eat."

The low carb diet includes restricting carbohydrates and eating a diet rich in healthy fat and protein. The keto diet can produce rapid weight loss. Although there are noted benefits to the keto diet like reducing blood sugar levels, there are several side effects to the diet. Research has shown the high in fat diet can increase the risk of heart disease and might not be a sustainable lifestyle in the long-run.

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Durlewanger told her more than 500,000 followers that her entire household follows the keto diet, including her youngest daughter, her husband and their dogs. Followers seemed concerned of the long-term impacts of the diet on her children's health and questioned the influencer on her decision.

"Great. That child is going to develop an eating disorder and clogged arteries," one viewer commented. "Why is an 11-year-old on a keto diet?"

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“It concerns me that your five and 11-year-old are keto. Every doctor and nutritionist I have ever talked to has said that keto is a diet only," someone pointed out.

"Why is your 11-year-old on a diet?" another echoed. "Have you told your pediatrician about this?"

"I'm calling CPS," someone else wrote. "Are we really projecting societal standards on an 11-year-old child?"

"It can't be healthy for a child to experience ketosis," added another user. "Children need carbs."

"Don't do this. My parents put me on the Atkins diet with them and my body hates me so much now, and I don't know how to eat properly. I never felt full," one person commented.

"Why are you restricting the food of an 11-year-old?" another added. "Do better."

In response to the backlash, Abby shared an additional video explaining why she enforces a keto diet on her children.

“If your child is not on a diet, what is wrong with you?" she began. “We have to feed our kids, I know they want to eat all the time but we literally have to feed them – your child has to be on a diet." A diet is just food or drink that you consistently consume – habitual nourishment. A diet is not synonymous with weight loss, a diet is not even synonymous with restriction. We never use the word ‘diet’ in our videos.”

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