Magazine 'miracle' diets should be 'dropped'

 

Jo Swinson MP: "We need a more positive body image message"

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A government minister has written to magazine editors asking them not to promote post-Christmas "miracle" diets because they pose a "health risk".

Equalities minister Jo Swinson wrote an open letter asking magazines to "shed the fad diets and fitness myths" in their January editions.

She suggested they "celebrate the beauty of diversity in body shape, skin colour, size and age" instead.

Ms Swinson is one of the co-founders of the Campaign for Body Confidence.

The letter was sent to magazines aimed at women and men, as well as health, celebrity and gossip publications.

'Negative consequences'

Ms Swinson wrote: "I am sure that you want to promote a healthy lifestyle for your readers but at this time of year in particular far too much of magazine coverage tends to focus on irresponsible, short-term solutions and encourages readers to jump on fad diet bandwagons.

"As editors you owe more to your readers than the reckless promotion of unhealthy solutions to losing weight.

"If your aim is to give practical, sensible advice about losing weight - and not how to drop a stone in five days - you should encourage reasonable expectations, instead of dangerous ones, along with exercise and healthy eating."

She later told the BBC she was opposed to "any diet that is encouraging you to lose weight at a miracle speed, which is an unhealthy speed, or cutting out food groups, or skipping meals.

"Any of these kind of fad diets actually can have negative health consequences, and most diets don't even work anyway."

Trusted advice

Jane Johnson, former editor of Closer and The Sun's Fabulous magazine, told the BBC that magazines do care about their readers and are very careful about the advice they give.

"Most magazines now are very much about holistic wellbeing.

"I don't think many magazines nowadays do the whole miracle fad diet thing. It's seen as very irresponsible and they want to make sure their readers stay with them, trust them and are loyal to them.

"Readers do go to them for advice, rather than the government," Ms Johnson said.

Biscuit ban

Rick Miller, a clinical dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, said fad diets could cause major issues.

"A lot of them promote cutting out whole food groups but the problem is that you end up with massive nutritional imbalances.

"If people are losing weight rapidly the consequences are that they rebound - and that's just a waste of time."

Instead, he said those who want to lose weight should set realistic targets and write down everything they eat and drink.

"Don't have a biscuit with every cup of tea and don't have that extra portion you would normally have.

"Small changes are best."

Ms Swinson did concede that magazine editors would have decided their January content some time ago, making any late change to their content difficult, but added: "I hope that the editors will recognise that this is something their readers really do worry about.

"It's something which affects people of all ages and in particular, many parents are worried about the message that this sends to their children."

 

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  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 460.

    450. SuzannaYebeni "Christianity is the largest religious group in the world"

    Only if you exclude the Chinese and Indians. Christianity is a minority in the UK, which is where you are preaching.

    "Christianity is the worst religion ... Islam on the other hand is the none harming religion"

    That explains why you shoot little girls who want to go to school, does it? Try living in the real world.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 459.

    I congratulate her opinion. People can make their own decisions but also some are not aware of the psychological implications that constant media coverage of fad diets can do to otherwise sensible people. A lot of people who jump on the fad diet wagon are people who know it doesn't work but try them hoping it will. Even if they do work the results are unhealthy and not permanent.

  • Comment number 458.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 457.

    @442.giovanna
    The machines exist but are too big & expensive for home use but they're not needed in most cases. BMI has been shown to be no more effective than measuring waist size in most cases too so there's no need to go though the palava you describe.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 456.

    452.two-bit
    Just now
    #438 Curtains 2012.
    "Squaring the linear dimension that is height gives area. That's simple maths."

    Hmm, wouldn't that only work if we were all 2-dimensional squares?

    +++

    Area ALWAYS equates to the square of length. See BS350 etc.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 455.

    England is a well educated nation. Look, so many of its inhabitants go to the University of "what I read in some magazine or other about healthy eating." It is even better than the College of "what some bloke told me in a pub."

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 454.

    @417.treacle_01
    "Diets do not work long time.

    The only thing to do is

    1. Eat less
    2. Exercise more.

    Think that it has something to do with the second law of thermodynamics"

    This prevailing dogma exacerbates the problem.
    If you eat less your metabolism falls. If you exercise more you build up an appetite. The answer is to eat satiating, natural foods, not semi-starvation.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 453.

    Maybe the Government could get my local Hospital to start sensible dieting.
    I've never seen so many. doctors and Nurses looking so over weight.
    And they,are telling me what to do!!!!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 452.

    #438 Curtains 2012.
    "Squaring the linear dimension that is height gives area. That's simple maths."

    Hmm, wouldn't that only work if we were all 2-dimensional squares?

    And if we were 2-D squares (figuratively speaking), surely none of us would over-indulge and this would all be a hypothetical conversation!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 451.

    438. CURTAINS 2012 "Squaring the linear dimension that is height gives area. That's simple maths."

    Too simple! Squaring height gives you your height squared. It is not remotely related to body area - that would require real maths and involve your height, width, and depth, and even then would not be accurate as your body is not a box shape.
    I note you do not explain how you would calculate volume.

  • Comment number 450.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 449.

    I tried a magazine diet but found it very difficult to swallow the paper.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 448.

    In the run up to the festive season I noticed all the horrible, processed, salt, sugar, colour, flavour enhancer and fat laden junk that people were loading up with. They know what they are doing, we should have no sympathy with them.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 447.

    Let Eric Pickles set an example to all the obese in the UK by shedding a few pounds of fat and pomposity!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 446.

    new genetic factors in both weight gain & the burning of calories are being discovered all the time. This doesn't alter the basic fact that to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than you use but it does mean that little homilies about how easy it is to lose weight or amount of exercise you need to do are nonsense because they only work for someone with the same gene combination as you

  • Comment number 445.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 444.

    "I hope that the editors will recognise that this is something their readers really do worry about ..." - Do they really? Evidence?

    "It's something which affects people of all ages and in particular, many parents are worried about the message that this sends to their children." Really? Evidence?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 443.

    What consenting adults eat and drink in their own time has absolutely nothing to do with the posters here, and certainly not Jo swinson. Classic case of nosey Britain. There's isn't a culture of unhealthy living in this country. But there is an unhealthy culture of telling strangers what they can or can't do in the privacy of their homes.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 442.

    425. Lou Kizhe "Total % of body fat is much more accurate measure than BMI, needs a machine to measure it though"

    Indeed so but none of us has a machine with which to do so. We can measure our height and we do have bathroom scales. We use what we all have. It isn't perfect but it will suffice in the majority of cases. Those who whine about it are just looking for excuses.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 441.

    Makes me glad that even with me now into my 30s that my metabolism runs so hot that I can pretty much eat what I want and as much as I want, barely do any exercise and still be slim, athletic and healthy.
    I never worry about food or dieting.
    It's a hard life being me.

 

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