Singer JoJo got injections, ate 500 cal daily to get thin: ‘the most unhealthy thing’

You may know singer JoJo, now 25, from her 2004 breakup anthem, “Leave.” It has over 45 million views on YouTube but honestly I barely remember this song. She was just a teen when she first had success, is now about to tour with Fifth Harmony and has a new album coming out. JoJo did an interview with PopSugar where she explained what was going on when she took such a long hiatus. It turns out that she was dealing with some issues related to a crash diet her people put her on, but it also sounds like she was just burnt out from being a child star. The video is below and JoJo comes across as very genuine, intelligent and self aware.

When did you start seeing that media had an effect on your self esteem
I was around 17. My mom really kept me in a bubble, she was managing me. I wanted to separate our relationship. If people had an opinion about me and were coming to her about it [and saying they wanted me to lose weight] she never let me know about it. There just wasn’t as many places to be nasty in 2004, 2005 as there are now.

Has there ever been a moment where you made a decision [that you regretted]?
Here’s something that I agreed to do that really ended up messing with me psychologically. I was under a lot of pressure from a company I was working with and they wanted me to lose weight fast. So they got me with a nutritionist and had me, like, on all these supplements, and I was injecting myself – this like is a common thing that girls do by the way. So it makes your body only need certain calories, so I ate 500 calories a day. This was the most unhealthy thing I had ever done. Then I gained all the weight back. I felt terrible about myself… I felt like ‘if I don’t do this, my album won’t come out’ and it didn’t. So it’s not like it even worked.

[From Popsugar]

JoJo really impressed me in this interview. She said that she was 18 when she went on that extreme diet with “really messed” with her self esteem, but that “after the age of 21 I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with myself.” She explained that the extreme diet did a lot of “damage”which she had to work through because she couldn’t exercise and “didn’t feel strong.” She also discussed the unrealistic beauty standards on social media and called them “unrealistic” and “filtered.”

I know about this diet because my cousin’s wife did it. (It also didn’t work for her long term.) It’s called the HCG diet and involves getting shots or taking drops of human chorionic gonadotropin and eating 500 calories a day. It’s based on the theory that HCG, which is a hormone that women produce more of while pregnant, allows you to more readily burn stored fat and eat less without getting hungry. In reality there are no studies that show that the HCG diet is effective or that it works other than for the fact that it cuts calories so drastically. What’s more is that HCG can cause serious side effects including an increased risk of blood clots, depression, edema and more. So of course this didn’t work out for her. At least she’s being honest about what she went through. I wish more celebrities (although I guess I use that word lightly in this case) would tell the truth about extreme diets like this. They’re ineffective and can ultimately be harmful.

Here’s the interview with JoJo. Popsugar’s Kirbie Johnson is chatty and fun and they have a good rapport. This is worth watching and I came away from it hoping to see more of JoJo.

Related stories

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

36 Responses to “Singer JoJo got injections, ate 500 cal daily to get thin: ‘the most unhealthy thing’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. HH says:

    Good for her for being brutally honest. The pressure put on women and girls is crazy. (Yes, guys have pressure too, but when the “dad bod” is something that’s funny in an adorable way, you can shut it.) I’m at that point in my late twenties where I’m noticing my body changing and I can’t do what I used to do and lose weight. And I already hated that stuff. LOL. Learning to be more comfortable is SUCH a process.

    • Dolkite says:

      The “dad bod craze” is a myth. Nobody wants to date a fat guy if they can get someone who’s thin or in shape.

      And even if it was a thing, that doesn’t mean guys enjoy being called “dad types” nor dating women who tell them “you remind me of my father” as if it’s not creepy hearing that from a potential sexual and romantic partner.

      • Abby says:

        I don’t know about all that, but I know I’m not the minority — I have dated guys that had the dad bod and guys that were ripped. The body did not make or break the attractiveness.

      • Adele Dazeem says:

        I don’t take the ‘dad bod’ term too literally, but I do see guys like Leonardo diCaprio considered ‘hot’ whereas a girl of his comparative size would be crucified.

  2. Chaucer says:

    I really like her. She’s friends with Zelda Williams and I follow them on IG. She’s much more authentic and comfortable with herself now it seems. She comes across as genuinely happy.

  3. Santia says:

    Fifth Harmony is not a “blast from the past” – they’re hot right now (“Work from Home,” etc.)

  4. Georgia says:

    That diet sounds awful!

    • QQ says:

      WAS! me and my gfs tried it, lost a bunch but couldnt socialize at all, eat anything fun and then gained it all back but then it makes you gain weird, anywhooooo We always look back at it like: “Ya’ll … Remember the time we went insane and ate sad?!?”

    • RedOnTheHead says:

      @Georgia…it is. Insane. And stupid. I have a couple of friends that did it over and over. When they kept gaining the weight (and more) back, they would run do the diet again. Refusing to acknowledge that the only reason they lost weight in the first place was because they were starving themselves at 500 cal a day. For them, it was all about the “magic” hormone shots. And the real craziness about the diet that you don’t hear too much about: you can only eat certain foods that make up your 500 daily calories. Again, there’s some “magic” in just these foods. WTF? Calories are calories, your body doesn’t know the difference. Granted, some calories are nutritious and some aren’t. Some are good for you and some aren’t. That’s just basic common sense, ffs. And the topper on the crazy cake? You’re not supposed to use body oils or lotions because they have fats in them and will be absorbed into your body somehow as calories. You can’t make this crap up, this diet is big business in the very large city I live in.

      Sorry for the long rant in reply to your comment. This particular diet fad just makes me ragey. I get so upset when people are taken advantage of with nonsense like this.

      • Andrea says:

        I know a woman who tried this diet too but then gained all the weight back when she started eating normally again. There is no quick fix diet. If there was, I’d have lost that 40 lbs I have been trying to lose by now. I workout 3-5 times per week, I eat 1200-1400 calories a day, etc etc, and still am only losing weight ever so slowly (mostly because of my PCOS and out fo whack hormones).

    • Snowflake says:

      Yeah this woman at work is doing it. Paid $300 for the shots, is on 500 calorie a day diet. She says she’s going to keep doing it until she loses all the weight. I think she is just going to put it all back on. You do it for so many days, take a break, then do it again. Crazy

  5. KiddVicious says:

    No diet is going to work if you go back to eating the crap that got you fat in the first place. I know a lot of people who did HCG and have kept the weight off by changing their eating habits to whole foods, nothing processed.

    • MsDanista says:

      I did one “round” of the HCG diet & it was the best thing I ever did. It really made me see how addicted I am to sugar & how shitty processed foods made me feel. My beloved Pepsi was the first to go. Next was white bread & buns for my cheeseburgers. Changing those habits allowed me to continue my weight loss long after the diet was over. That was nearly 6 years ago. I don’t deprive myself of my favorites – dark chocolate & ice cream – but I’ve adopted the motto “white foods are the devil” because they cause an unbelievable sluggishness. I saw it as a cleanse because that’s what it did for me. I also read “The Diet ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About”. I’m not a member of the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade, but the author made very good points about the food additives keeping you addicted & coming back for more junk. Of course the FDA stepped in & took HCG off of the OTC market. Makes me wonder…

      • Mikeyangel says:

        I have done three 21 day rounds and successfully lost 35 pounds. Took long breaks in between, changed my eating habits, and have kept it off. I know some people who yoyo with it, but I changed how I lived after I lost 20 the first time and put 7 back on rather quick. I have completely eliminated soda (which was a great pleasure to me), and just really don’t have the taste for large amounts of garbage like I once did. I could never eat a bowl of skittles again, 10-15 absolutely, but I don’t need to eat the bag to enjoy it. Or the whole cake, just a few nibbles! I eat a lot more fruits and veggies too. It helped me gain power over food that once had power over me. Everyone is different, and people have gained weight for different reasons. Depression, anxiety, lifestyle change, pregnancy, work/free time ratio, for me I started living to eat instead of eating to live. This diet (and it is truly at 33 the only real diet I have subjected myself to) gave me control of that through 21 days of torture! For me it was a good torture, in that I enjoyed the highly nutritious food I was allowed and started to see how often I treated myself (oh a caramel iced coffee because I worked til 2 but still got the kids to school, Wendy’s for lunch because I drove my daughter all over to go to preschool and I deserved the convenience, etc) and got real with myself. Small fix, but long term change for me. My husband (who was by no means obese-just had a handful of extra pounds) lost 20 pounds in a month between quitting soda and then 21 days of the diet. He is doing great too. I think when someone is ready to commit to something, anything, it really doesn’t matter what route they take, they will get where they want to go.

  6. Margo S. says:

    She’s always seemed so cool. So glad she’s back!

  7. Mimz, says:

    I know you guys had an article long ago, but JoJo was also out of the spotlight for many years because of one of those nightmare contracts she tried to get out of for a long time. So basically she couldn’t make an album elsewhere, and her recording company also wasn’t that interested. She fought hard, HARD to get out of it and only got out a couple of years ago I think. She was on a 7 year contract.
    Here’s the link

    I like her a lot, and I wish her well. Also, I think she’s not talking about the record label drama anymore because it was all she had to talk about for so long!
    Anyway… that diet thing sounds like a nightmare.

  8. Bettyrose says:

    Why is extreme skinny still a thing? At what point have women achieved a degree of success, autonomy, and equal respect in our culture that we aren’t expected to torture ourselves *in addition* to being hard working and successful at our profession?

    • HoustonGrl says:


    • WingKingdom says:

      That’s what I was thinking too!! Why can’t a woman (or girl) pursue music as a career without also having to be physically attractive? Imagine all of the amazing singers we’re missing out on because they don’t have the “right look.” Hard work and musical talent are enough. There doesn’t need to be any more pressure than that.

    • eggy weggs says:

      Video killed the radio star.

  9. HoustonGrl says:

    So sad and illegal!! A child should not be put through that abuse.

  10. NeNe'sWig says:

    She looks just like Evan Rachel Wood!!

    Glad she’s doing and feeling better these days, I LOVED her song when it came out back in high school.

  11. Norman Bates' Mother says:

    I was obsessed with her song “Leave (Get Out)” and Stacie Orrico’s “Stuck” when I was 15 – they were basically the anthems of my teenage years. I still remember how excited I was when their music videos were on tv. JoJo has a very strong and beautiful voice, but probably thanks to those awful producers, her later songs, from the times she talks about (17 and up) are unlistenable. They tried to make her into a generic, skinny plastic pop star with no uniqueness about her and failed. I hope she has a better team and better songs now.

  12. Gnomeo says:

    She and Lilo used to look so alike.

  13. Mo says:

    Her music was nothing special, but I watched a Much Music interview with Jojo when she was a teenager, and thought she seemed really mature and cool for her age. Have often wondered whatever happened to her, glad to see she’s still working. Touring with Fifth Harmony though, blech, not a fan

  14. Kelsey says:

    I went school with Kirbie! I also remember her being obsessed with ‘Leave’. I can’t watch the video right now but I bet she’s sooo excited.

  15. Liz says:

    I’m so glad she’s being so honest. Often times women are criticized for overdieting or being too skinny but in some, and perhaps many cases, it’s their management to blame. So often those higher ups are men.

  16. SamusAran says:

    I’ve always loved JoJo. Her music she has on YouTube is excellent. She’s got a strong voice and she’s actually good! Can’t wait to hear a new album. Seriously, go check her out on YouTube. “Take Me Home” is a great cover she did as well as some others she released at that same time.

  17. racer says:

    There are a lot of women in this world with low self esteem in general. There is not one person or magazine that will ever drive me to self hatred. I make changes based on my personal level of comfort. A sense of self worth can never be destroyed by outside forces.

  18. Luana says:

    I really liked her back in the day, good that she’s back now