Despite negative health consequences, people have consumed tapeworms for many years to lose weight, and this practice continues today. 

Elizabeth Tucker, a distinguished service professor of English at Binghamton University, said that “worm clinics” like one she spoke with in Mexico, have been tied to weight loss tactics. People pay thousands of dollars for one or two worms, which their website claims improves autoimmune diseases and improves other health conditions. 

“Like tape measures, tapeworms remind us of society's standards for ideal weight,” said Tucker. “Dieters try to eat less and get thin, but tapeworms want to eat all they can; in doing so, they represent rebellion against societal restrictions on self-satisfaction.” 

Although this route of weight loss is known to be dangerous, Tucker said that the ideas behind it are perpetuated by society’s ideals of being thin and losing weight. 

This connects to a larger national topic of conversation about tapeworms and how the increased popularity of sushi is causing an increase in the number of tapeworm infections. 


Tucker is internationally known as an expert in children’s and adolescents’ folklore.

View her full profile.