A new 'health' trend in Hong Kong sees women staring straight at the sun in the belief that it will replace their need for food and even improve their vision and sleep quality, reports Oriental Daily.
The women, between 20 and 30 years old, reportedly head to the Sam Ka Village beach in Lei Yue Mun every evening and take off their shoes before setting their phone timers and stand to stare at the sunset - some using an umbrella or a tissue to protect their skin.
The concept of 'sun gazing' or 'sun eating' revolves around consuming the sun's solar energy instead of food and that by doing so it can reduce the body's needs.
Photographs show the women lined up together in the blaring sun, seemingly unaware of the people around them as they engage in the bizarre practice.
Some of the women choose to wear pinhole glasses to limit the UV rays getting to their eyes and causing permanent damage.
Some of the sun gazers stress they are doing it for health reasons, not weight loss. 'We practice sun-gazing as a substitute for eating. Some of us who have finished the therapy now eat less, and others don’t have to eat at all,' one woman told Oriental Daily. She said they start by looking at the sun for up to 10 seconds on the first day, adding 10 seconds every day until they reach 44 minutes by the ninth month of practice.
Dermatology specialist, Hou Xiang Jun, is concerned about the rising trend, saying the subtropical region, high ultraviolet degree and water reflection is leading to far too much ultraviolet light absorption. 'Even if painted with sunscreen they can only withstand five to six per cent of the damage, an umbrella or cap can only take 10 - 20 per cent and long exposure, in addition to sunburn, will increase the risk of serious skin cancer,' Mr Xiang Jun told Oriental Daily.
Ophthalmology experts are also concerned, naming conjunctival disease, cataracts and macular degeneration as potential side effects.