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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 14:27 GMT
Public turning to self-help books
Overweight man
Some of the top-selling books cover losing weight
People are increasingly turning to self-help books, Amazon's list of the top 20 UK bestsellers suggests.

Five of the top-selling books are self-help related, with hypnotist Paul McKenna's I Can Make You Thin the most popular at number four.

It comes after there was a 38% increases in sales in the genre during 2004, the online retailer said.

But doctors warned while the books can be helpful, people should seek advice if they have health concerns.

Amazon predicts the number of sales will continue to grow after GPs in Devon unveiled a scheme to prescribe patients with depression self-help books instead of pills.

Rising sales

Amazon books editor Fiona Buckland said: "It seems that many people are turning to these books as trusted companions to help them in 2005.

"We have noticed sales rising by over a third in the past year, which suggests that more people are actively seeking to better their lives through literature."

She said during 2003 spiritual healing and advice books were the most popular, whereas last year the public turned towards practical help books.

Best-selling self-help books
4 - I Can Make You Thin (Paul McKenna)
5 - The Mind Gym: Wake Up Your Mind (The Mind Gym)
12 - What You Wear Can Change Your Life (Trinny and Susannah
16 - The GI Diet Book (Rick Gallop)
17 - You Are What You Eat (Gillain McKeith)
19 - Embracing Change (Tony Buzan)

Dr Graham Archard, vice-chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Self-help books certainly have valuable a place in society.

"Indeed, without self treatment and prevention the NHS would not be able to cope with patient demand.

"However, if people have serious concerns about their health they should make an appointment to see their GP."

And Glasgow psychologist Dr Jim White, a spokesman for the British Psychological Society, added: "Self-help books can be really helpful but it does depend who has written it.

"Some should be seen as just a bit of fun, whereas others can make a real difference.

"Another problem is that the books are often not easy to understand, they are written for Guardian readers, and problems are often more common as you go further down the social scale."

Also in the top 20 were The Mind Gym: Wake Your Mind Up, What You Wear Can Change Your Life by TV fashion gurus Trinny and Susannah, the GI Diet Book by Rick Gallop, Gillian McKeith's You Are What You Eat and Embracing Change by Tony Buzan.

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