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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
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A women and young Mauritanian girl

In Mauritania fat is beautiful and girls are even force-fed to help them pile on the pounds.

But women have died after taking cattle steroids for a quick fix and obesity-related health problems are on the rise.

As Crossing Continents reported, a growing number of young women are now rebelling against the fat look.

We asked for your comments on the issues that our programme raised. A selection of your comments are below. This debate is now closed.

All my life I have had to starve to be thin as it was considered unattractive to be fat. We never ate anything sweet or snack foods. Some of the girls lived on diet pills and some mothers got diet pills from the doctors for them. Now, I hear there is a place where they have to be fat. I thought you can't be too rich or to thin.
Donna Loveall, US, Oklahoma

In Ghana, it is a status symbol for women to be large as it gives the impression that the husband looks after them well. Reminds me of the thin trophy wives that many in the West yearn for and I see little difference between the two. Force-feeding however is a different matter and one that I both struggle to comprehend and accept.
Niall, York

Between two girls who were equally beautiful, one skinny and one reasonably plump, I would choose the plump one!
Tooji, Dougou

I will never understand what makes women inflict things like this upon themselves and their fellow women. And they do it all in the name of beauty, happiness, love even. Why do women torture themselves so much? And I do wonder, do men really, really want it? I dearly wish all the women on this planet will come to their senses one day, care for their bodies in a healthy way and just love themselves as they are.
Dorothea, Delft, Holland

I think this is a false problem. My husband and I are from Mauritania and I'm a very skinny woman and he loves me. My daughter too is skinny and I'm not planning to feed her that way because I want to see her grow healthily.
Fatou, New York, US

What I'd be interested to know is if there has been high mortality in Mauritanian nomadic women due to these fat-related diseases. If it's their traditional practice and it was so deadly, there shouldn't be any of them left! Could it be because the milk and couscous is all organic and not the processed poison sold in urban areas? In some other parts of West Africa, there is a similar practice but the girls are not forced, just given very high protein and high fat content meals, not made from processed food. The real pity would be for anyone to develop the "you-can-never-be-too-thin" attitude. At a size 16 myself, looks like I should move to Mauritania.
Kemi Robinson, Abuja

It will be interesting to see if the inspiration "by the slim stars of satellite television" will lead to too much weight loss in young women. Being very slim has its dangers as well.
Samantha, San Diego, California

Where are the human rights folks on this? Does force-feeding not fall into the bracket of torture or inhuman treatment?
Sai, NY, US

Those poor women - the human version of the geese that are force-fed to enlarge their livers for the luxury trade of Brussels, Ardenne Pates. In old China, people who were fat were the wealthy, so that it was, like Mauritania now, the badge of wealth.
Mary Fallon

A fascinating and well put together programme with nice touches of humour. It would be interesting in the future to look at the impact of Lebanese videos in some other Arab countries too, eg Saudi Arabia, and on the craze for plastic surgery in Lebanon itself. It's refreshing to hear a programme on social issues in an Arab country, when the focus of most BBC programming on the region is, for understandable reasons, so weighted towards political issues.
Susannah, London

Anorexic and bulimic on one side of the ocean, obese on the other... just goes to show there's nothing less common than common sense.
Attila, Istanbul

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

Crossing Continents


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Mauritania's battle over beauty
18 Apr 07 |  Crossing Continents
Country profile: Mauritania
13 Apr 07 |  Country profiles


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