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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 11:06 GMT
Interactive Essay: The Fight For Our Bodies
Susie Orbach says the slimming industry is a con. Repeated diets are bad for the health and can actually make one fatter. Women should eat what they want, when they want, she explains in this BBC News Interactive Essay.

: The Fight For Our Bodies

In the first of a new series called the BBC News Interactive Essay, the writer Susie Orbach sets out her controversial view that dieting is a waste of time and effort.

How the Interactive Essay works
1. Watch and read the multimedia essay
2. Join the debate by e-mailing your views
3. On Monday 21 Jan, Susie Orbach responds to your points
Have you ever been on a diet? If you are a woman and live in the West, then the answer is probably yes.

Did it work? Likely as not, it didn't.

In the six-minute multimedia presentation, Ms Orbach explains why slimming is not only often a waste of time, but also harmful. In extreme cases, it can even be deadly.

Everyone's body, she says, has a natural "set point" weight. Fighting that with a diet can be counterproductive, actually causing the body to gain more weight in the long-term.

Ms Orbach wants to hear your views on the topic:

  • Are we infatuated with body image today?
  • Do you feel under pressure to get the "right" body?
  • Have you lost weight and kept it off?
  • Can you shrug off the peer-pressure, and be happy with the way you look?

    Click on the icon at the top of the page to see the multimedia essay and to e-mail the debate. Ms Orbach will respond to the key issues you raise.

    Who is Susie Orbach? Susie Orbach is a psychotherapist, author, activist and expert on eating disorders and women's issues.

    She is widely known as a counsellor to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who publicly admitted to suffering from an eating disorder.

    Ms Orbach initially made her name as the author of Fat is a Feminist Issue. Published in 1978, the book set out the radical theory that body weight is more a state of mind than a physical condition.

    Women had become enslaved to the diet industry and were harming themselves through repeated dieting.

    Her latest book, On Eating, is published by Penguin.

  • See also:

    21 Jun 00 | Health
    'Superwaif' regulation call
    20 Dec 00 | Medical notes
    Eating disorders
    04 Sep 01 | Health
    Eating disorders 'rife in girls'
    02 Sep 01 | Showbiz
    Posh admits eating disorder
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