The advertising industry has been accused of damaging the health of the
British people by using images that pressurise them into going on
dangerous crash diets.
The Labour MP, Alice Mahon, said this week: ‘We are being bombarded and
subjected to a tyranny of thinness. We see all the subliminal messages
on billboards and television screens trying to tell us that we cannot
look nice unless we imitate models, who look too thin anyway.
‘The image-makers put enormous pressure on women and girls to be
unhealthily thin,’ she added.
Mahon also attacked advertising for the pounds 1 billion a year diet
industry. She said the ads helped to maintain the myth of ‘miracle’
Instead, people should be advised to eat sensibly and to take regular
exercise, Mahon argued.
She told the House of Commons: ‘The dieting industry and the ad industry
are contributing to the increasingly bad health of the nation.’
Demanding curbs on ads for slimming aids, Mahon continued: ‘The diet
industry can claim almost anything it likes about its products. When
those products fail, as they invariably do, the woman blames herself and
moves on to the next useless and usually expensive product.’
While conceding that the Advertising Standards Authority has recognised
the problem, she said the British code of advertising practice should be
tightened up. Mahon argued that publishers should be made to obtain a
certificate of pre-clearance from the ASA, and that ads should not make
any reference to the amount or speed of weight loss, or suggest it is
desirable to be underweight. The use of underweight models in ads should
be banned, she added.
Mahon called for the ASA to review its rules on slimming advertising
The Labour MP was introducing a backbench bill to regulate the diet
industry, but it is unlikely to become law because of a lack of