UK women protest against dieting industry
Summary of story from The Guardian, January 15, 2012
UK women who say they have been failed by weight loss programmes sold to them by the multi-million-pound dieting industry are to demonstrate outside parliament.
The protest, which will take place today, is part of the Ditching Dieting campaign led by Endangered Bodies, an organisation which aims to “expose the role of the diet industry in destabilising women’s and girls’ appetites and desires”.
The campaign has criticised popular slimming clubs such as Weight Watchers and Slimming World, as well as celebrity-endorsed diets which it says often have no long-term benefits.
According to Endangered Bodies spokeswoman Amy Anderson, “the dieting industry presents itself as a benign force but actually it causes people a lot of misery, so we’re highlighting the toxic nature of diets and how they’re damaging to our mental and physical health.”
The protest is set to coincide with representatives of the diet industry giving evidence to an all-party inquiry into the issue of body image anxiety. Representatives of the cosmetic surgery industry will also give evidence today, along with Susie Orbach, author of Fat is a Feminist Issue.
According to Zoe Helman, head of public health at Weight Watchers, the scheme’s famous points programme “has been independently verified by scientific evidence”.
Slimming World said it agrees with Endangered Bodies that “quick-fix, short-term” diets are ineffective and unsustainable, and that its programme focuses instead on building confidence and tackling feelings of failure.
Recent research has highlighted the inefficacy of many diet programmes. According to research published in the UK in November, public interest in weight loss means that one in three people are constantly trying to lose weight. This figure is weighted towards women, with 39 per cent saying they were trying to lose weight most of the time.
Research from the US has shown that 95 per cent of dieters regain the weight they lose within five years. According to Endangered Bodies, the dieting industry relies on this failure, which leads to repeated attempts to lose weight.