A registered dietician tells PEOPLE the fad is unfounded
Women around the globe are posting photos online of themselves contorting to reach their arm toward their stomachs.
The #BellyButtonChallenge is taking the Web by storm, based on the idea that being able to touch your belly button from behind is an indicator of good health and being at an ideal weight.
The challenge originated in China and is allegedly based on a U.S. study stating that women who can complete the challenge have healthy bodies, according to the Daily Mail. However, experts don’t see the challenge as being a valid indicator of healthiness.
“This is just silly,” Dr. Keith Ayoob, registered dietitian and associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, tells PEOPLE. “You can be perfectly healthy without being able to do this. It addresses flexibility, but even then only one aspect of it.”
“Even if you were flexible and slender enough to pull this off, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in perfect health, as waist-circumference is only one indicator of health,” adds Karen Ansel, co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life. Ansel does note that having belly fat is linked to diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Dr. Wendy Bazilian, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet, also does not see the fad as effective.
“There are lots of more scientific – or at least kind and loving – ways to measure your body and determine your health status,” she says. “Beautiful bodies come in many sizes.”
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Instead of aiming to reach your belly button or have a #thighgap, Ayoob recommends more practical means to achieve good health.
“People should focus on real ways to be healthy: eating well and getting daily physical activity,” he says. “Challenge yourself to eat better and exercise, not touch your belly button by stretching your arm the wrong way around.”