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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 01:28 GMT 02:28 UK
Obese in despair about their size
Image of an obese woman
Most overweight people said they felt discriminated against
Two-thirds of overweight women say they feel that life is not worth living because of their size, a survey reveals.

Of the 4,000 questioned for the National Slimming survey, only 1% were happy with their shape.

Nine out of 10 felt depressed and eight out of 10 utter despair about their weight.

The research for Slimming World found overweight men faced similar angst based on replies from 1,000 men.

It is vital that overweight people are allowed to be themselves and that those who want to do something about it are offered the right support
Dr Ian Campbell of the National Obesity Forum

More than nine out of 10 of those questioned said they felt like "second class citizens" and seven out of 10 said they had been "pilloried and poked fun at".

Overall, 98% said that society discriminated against overweight people.

Many blamed the celebrity culture and pressure from the Government to be slimmer for causing greater victimisation of overweight people than ever before.

Among the overweight women, half said they cut the size labels out of their clothes and over a third said they would have cosmetic surgery now or in the future.

Image of Peter Kay
Peter Kay was voted most attractive larger man

When asked which celebrity body shapes they aspired to, Catherine Zeta-Jones was said to have the best female figure and Brad Pitt the ideal male physique.

Comedian Peter Kay was voted "most attractive larger man", over Robbie Coltrane and Eamonn Holmes, while Dawn French was considered "most attractive larger lady", ahead of Fern Britten and Caroline Quentin.

Caryl Richards, managing director of Slimming World, said: "There has never been a worse time to have a weight problem. Overweight people receive a constant barrage of criticism and abuse and have never been more persecuted."

Dr Ian Campbell of the National Obesity Forum said: "I am very disappointed if these figures are true. It would seem that much of the coverage of obesity in the media has had an adverse effect.

"People are clearly much more aware now of the health risks of obesity, but the incentive to lose weight should come from oneself. It should be for personal reasons and not because of something dictated either from health professionals or government.

"It is vital that overweight people are allowed to be themselves and that those who want to do something about it are offered the right support."

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