Wednesday, October 7, 1998 Published at 01:14 GMT 02:14 UK
Pressure to be perfect
Women have a distorted perception of what is a healthy weight
A fifth of women say they are on a diet all or most of the time and blame an intolerable pressure to have perfect bodies, according to a new survey.
The research findings show that many young women are so concerned about their appearance that they will not go naked in front of their partners, refuse to leave the house, and indulge in damaging eating binges.
The study suggests social and peer group pressure has given women a distorted perception of what is a healthy weight, and the belief that unless they have a waif-like figure they will be rejected by men and get turned down for jobs.
The survey was conducted for the Bread for Life campaign which is funded by the Flour Advisory Bureau to encourage young women to eat a more healthy diet, including more bread.
Its main findings are:
Commenting on the findings, psychologist Pam Spurr says: "These quite shocking results confirm my belief that today's talk of 'girl power' is just that - talk.
Denise Van Outen, the TV presenter who fronts the Bread for Life campaign, says many of the findings strike a chord with her.
"Being in the public eye has made me more aware of the way I look, and I know the pressures young women feel, but you have to try to keep it in perspective and remember that personality gets you where you want to be."