Magazines told to scrap ‘fad diets’

By staff

Women's magazines should drop articles encouraging miracle weight loss diets from their January issues, a minister has said.

Jo Swinson, the women's and equalities minister, has written a letter to the editors of magazines like Heat and Closer asking them to avoid "irresponsible diet hype" in the new year.

The Lib Dem MP, a co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence group, argued magazines should offer tips on being "healthy and vibrant" rather than just advice on being thin.

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

"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."

Swinson called for women to adopt a new year's resolution of abandoning what she called the "default setting of self-criticism" – and accused women's magazines of focusing on "irresponsible, short-term solutions".

"Surely by now we're all aware that there are no miracle diets or if there are, they are miracles that come with a cost," she commented.

"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."

Swinson has been a longstanding campaigner on women's issues. In 2009 she persuaded the Lib Dems to adopt a policy calling for the use of airbrushing in advertising appearing in magazines to be banned, arguing it is harmful to young girls' body image.

That followed a 2007 British Fashion Council inquiry which concluded airbrushing could "perpetuate an unachievable aesthetic".