Influencer dies at Chinese weight loss camp trying to lose 200 pounds

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A 21-year-old influencer named Cuihua died Saturday after attempting to shed 200 pounds as fast as possible while at a weight loss camp in China.

The star’s family confirmed her passing in a post on her Douyin page, the Chinese version of TikTok.

“Thank you to everyone for your support and love for Cuihua,” they wrote, according to Sixth Tone. “Our child has gone to heaven, and we are still processing all of this.”

They added, “We hope that people won’t be misguided by malicious individuals for their entertainment, which could harm parents and family. Let our child rest in peace, thank you!”

The cause of death is yet unclear, however, the woman had reported to the hospital because she felt unwell after exercising, her parents wrote on Douyin.

The fit-fluencer, who boasted close to 9,000 fans on the platform, had joined one of China’s weight loss camps, which gained international attention several years back amid the country’s skyrocketing obesity rates.

Cuihua’s particular fat-fighting institution in Xi’an, Shaanxi province offered a closed model comprising a healthy eating regimen, rest, and of course, plenty of exercise.

The influencer’s daily routine, which she documented in over 100 videos on Douyin starting in 2022, reportedly included high-intensity cardio and strength training workouts such as battle ropes — swinging ropes in rapid succession — and weightlifting.

She also ate “very little food,” per the Shanghai Morning News, and adhered to a strict diet of coarse grains, cabbages, eggs and fruit.

In addition to her grueling daytime workouts, Cuihua would also engage in evening exercises, which she live-streamed for her fans as well. Oftentimes, she appeared to be struggling through the workouts.

As of Tuesday morning China time, all her exercise clips had been set to private, Insider reported.

The exercise enthusiast claimed she lost 80 pounds in six months — of which she lost 57 in the first two — with an overall goal of shedding 200.

A stock image of a plus-sized person working out.
Weight loss camps have cropped up across China as part of a campaign to combat the nation’s obesity epidemic.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cuihua’s death sent ripples across Chinese social media with many users accusing the camp of pushing her too far too fast without any scientific research to support their methods.

“The training camp is too messy,” said one critic on Weibo, the Chinese microblogging site. They added that someone with Ciuhua’s “figure” should not be doing a “high-intensity exercise,” adding that adopting a “reasonable diet” would make her “a lot thinner.”

“You should take it slowly to keep your heart rate within the aerobic safety range,” said another. “It can’t be high-intensity all at once, the heart and knees can’t stand it, and it is easy to die suddenly.”

A third declared, “These coaches really don’t have any comprehensive knowledge, and they think they are all sports school trainees.”

A stock image of plus-sized people.
Cuihua frequently posted workout vids for her 10,000 followers on Douyin — China’s version of TikTok.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Interestingly, the family doesn’t blame the institution for Cuihua’s death.

“It didn’t happen at the Hornets [training camp], please don’t cyber bully any more training camps, it’s over, we don’t want to be sad,” they wrote on her Douyin page.

This fat camp is one of the hundreds of such institutions that have sprouted up across the middle kingdom as part of a nationwide campaign to help combat the nation’s obesity epidemic.

According to a 2020 Report on the Status of Nutrition and Chronic Diseases in China, over half of the country’s adults were overweight or obese.

Unfortunately, in many cases, such as Cuihua’s, these weight loss programs have done more harm than good.

This past March, the Shanghai-based outlet Jiemian News reported that unnamed fat camp attendees across China were injured while training.

Others reportedly suffered from rhabdomyolysis, a serious ailment that occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases toxins into the blood, which can damage the heart and kidneys and cause permanent disability or even death.

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