Campaigners have warned the country is “obsessed” with diets – as it is revealed a fifth of Britons would chop their finger off to achieve the perfect body shape.
Experts say Britons face an “onslaught” of New Year’s fad diets which many are taking up under mounting pressure to look perfect.
And our fixation with weight is growing, with the word ‘diet’ mentioned more than 1,200 times in media articles in the first five days alone of January 2014 – 43 per cent up on the year before and 66 per cent more than in 2012.
The national body confidence campaign, Be Real, said Britons are “bombarded” with idealised images of celebrities and models, driving many into depression and despair. They urged people to avoid fad diets this New Year and focus on living healthier lives instead.
Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, chairwoman of Be Real, said: “People are increasingly obsessed with diets.
“But actually, at the same time as a nation we are getting bigger. It is obviously a fixation that doesn’t work.
“The sad reality is that somebody of any age can become fixated about dieting to achieve the perfect body.
“But young women are likely to be more affected by it and feel greater pressure than other sectors of the population.”
According to the survey of 2,000 adults commissioned by the campaign, a fifth of adults have skipped meals to try to lose weight and a quarter admit they struggle to keep up exercise and diet regimes. A fifth admit they would lose a finger to achieve the perfect body shape, while a third say they have returned to their previous weight after dieting.
Ms Nokes, who is also chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, said a fixation with how we look is also affecting young children.