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
10:42 GMT, 28 December 2012
Appeal: Jo Swinson co-founded the Campaign for Body Confidence
Magazines have been urged to ditch New Year ‘miracle diets’ that promise to help readers shed the pounds they have piled on over the festive season.
Jo Swinson, the Minister for Women and Equalities, claims such diets – which offer tips on how to lose up to a stone in a matter of days – encourage ‘dangerous’ behaviour and ‘self-hate’.
In an open letter to women’s, men’s, health and celebrity magazines, she implored editors to stop focusing on short-term solutions and instead encourage sustainable healthy lifestyles.
The Lib Dem MP said: ‘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 – not how to drop a stone in five days – you should encourage reasonable expectations, instead of dangerous ones, along with exercise and healthy eating.’
Speaking on Five Live yesterday, Miss Swinson, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, said: ‘There’s a real difference between having a crash diet and getting healthier.’
She added: ‘It is irresponsible for magazines to offer “tips, tricks and simple steps” so that people can be thin. Not healthy or vibrant, just thin.’
'Magazines should reflect ‘real diversity’ rather than showing only slim, young models.'
Editors, she added, ‘need to be updating the type of January article that they’re putting in their magazines to have a more positive body image rather than the sort of self-hate perpetuated by the fad diet articles’.
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.