Don't write about fad diets': Women's minister tells magazines not to promote 'irresponsible' post-Christmas weight loss tips
MP Jo Swinson urged magazines to ditch fad diets in new year editions
In an open letter she said editors should encourage 'reasonable expectations' about weight loss
11:52 GMT, 27 December 2012
Appeal: Jo Swinson co-founded the Campaign for Body Confidence
Magazines have been urged not to promote 'miracle diets' to people worrying about losing weight after Christmas indulgence.
Minister for Women and Equalities Jo Swinson has written an open letter to women's, men's, health, celebrity and gossip magazines appealing for them to 'shed the fad diets and fitness myths' in their new year editions.
She appealed to editors to drop 'irresponsible, short-term solutions' and promote ways to lose weight healthily.
Her appeal comes at a time when many people try to lose weight after a period of over-eating at Christmas and magazines are full of ways to shift pounds in the new year.
The Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire 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 ends the letter by suggesting a new year resolution to 'celebrate the beauty of diversity in body shape, skin colour, size and age'.
Ms Swinson today added: 'Given that most diets fail within a very short time, it is irresponsible for magazines to offer “tips, tricks and simple steps” so that people can be thin. Not healthy or vibrant, just thin.
'One resolution that is actually worth making, for all of us, is to resolve with friends, family and colleagues to challenge the default setting of self-criticism, and help each other to do so.'
Ms Swinson co-founded the Campaign for Body Confidence in 2010 with fellow MP Lynne Featherstone.
It promotes diversity of women's bodies in the media, as well as body confidence education in schools and honesty in advertising.
The group's founders believe the 'pressure to conform to impossible stereotypes' is damaging to both men and women and increases low-self-esteem, depression and eating disorders.
Weight Watchers, which was recently named the NHS' most effective weight loss provider, welcomed the letter.
A spokeswoman said: 'We’re delighted that the government is taking measures to prevent the promotion of irresponsible and unhealthy fad diets. Weight Watchers is not a diet, it’s a healthy lifestyle.'
She said they encourage a 'healthy and sustainable weight loss' of no more than 2lbs a week.