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 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 15:37 GMT
Pick your celebrity diet here
Celeb diets
Each year after the festive season, millions of Britons vow to slim down and shape up. With the help of a range of celebrities, BBC News Online staff are putting themselves on the scales. Join in with us.
A new year, a new you, right? But for many, the resolution to shape up for 2003 will fall by the wayside as fast as you can say "regular exercise and a balanced diet".

For the resolve required to get off the couch - not to mention cut back on the festive treats - proves just too much when the temperatures hover around 0C.

For the famous, who live their lives in the glare of a movie camera or the pop of a flashbulb, finding that resolve is how they make their living. Thus every year, as scores of new diets are launched, those who devise such regimes look to secure a celebrity endorsement as the route to popularity.

Celeb diet table: Carol Vorderman, Kylie Minogue, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Geri Halliwell, Cameron Diaz

Who in their right mind would eat just cabbage soup - a regime designed for those recovering from surgery - before Joanna Lumley enthused about how it kept her slim?

Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary
9/10 adults agree healthy eating and more activity is best approach
Yet more than half of UK adults are overweight
One in four is on a diet at any one time
98% will regain weight lost - and put on more
And would Ko Chohan's detox diet have enjoyed the same success had Carol Vorderman not blossomed from a somewhat frumpy TV presenter to a catsuited stunner at age 40?

But what's it like to follow these punishing routines after a frenzy of festive season feasting - and does the pain of adhering to a new way of eating pay off?

To find out, we have recruited a band of in-house guinea pigs to try out these popular diets:

  • Carol Vorderman's detox: cuts out caffeine, booze, meat and dairy products, and favours raw fruit and veg as well as lots of nuts and seeds

  • Glycemic Index diet, as followed by Kylie: processed foods and carbs such as white rice and potatoes are off-limits, but allows red wine and dark chocolate

  • Atkins diet, a la Brad 'n' Jen: a hi-protein, lo-carb regime in which fat is fine but fruit and veg are limited

  • Blood type diet, as followed by Martine McCutcheon: Os are "hunters" best suited to a meat-heavy diet, while As should be largely vegetarian

  • Food combining, a favourite of Liz Hurley: avoid eating carbs and proteins together

Over the next few weeks, our volunteers will chart their progress, detailing the high and lows of their new eating habits as follows:

Four of the five BBC News Online slimmers
From left, Ania, Pete, Katie and Peter face their fate
Carol's detox: Katie Hamilton, of CBBC Newsround, says: "After a blissful week eating meals cooked mainly with butter, cream and wine, I feel the need to punish myself with a full body detox - bring on the brown rice, I need your help Carol!"

Kylie's diet: Pete Clifton, our editor, says: "I was 12st for years, but my stomach has taken on a life of its own. After a Christmas of wall-to-wall eating and drinking, one of my children suggested I should be in the Super Sumo cartoon show. I saw a model of Kylie at Madame Tussaud's recently, and I reckon she is in better shape than me. But I've read that her job allows her to try out 'bottom enhancing moves' to complement the diet. I could be struggling on that front."

Brad 'n' Jen's regime: Cathy Grieve, of BBC Newsgathering, says: "I am overweight and so unfit - I suffer from a sweet tooth constantly. After the Christmas splurge I feel all my clothes are a little too tight and need to remedy that one fairly quickly as I don't think I can afford a new wardrobe."

Martine's diet: Peter Sharples, a systems administrator, bemoans his love handles. "I am not overweight; but there are only so may times that I can take friends and family saying 'you've put on the beef, mate'. I fear that further addition to my flabulous repertoire will lead to a stripy suntan from the creases in my tummy this summer."

Liz's regime: Ania Lichtarowicz, of our Sci-tech team, says "While I don't hold with fad diets, I'm desperate to lose half a stone and get back into an outfit for a friend's wedding."

Do you have any tips for our volunteers? Share them with us, using the form below.

Be careful on diets that cut out carbs. I tried that once and passed out - my flatmate had to revive me with toast and honey. A sensible balanced lo-fat diet will keep the weight off.
Fiona, UK

What is the point of being thin if you lose all your friends? They'll soon stop inviting you out if you can't drink or eat anything. I lost over a stone in 6 months by reducing - but not eliminating - carbs and saturated fats. This allowed a huge amount of scope in what I could eat and I didn't feel guilty about occasional treats. I never refused an invitation and most people didn't even notice that I was dieting, only that I was thinner.
Jo, UK

I had always eaten a well-balanced diet when I started on the blood type diet last spring. After a couple of weeks I noticed a huge improvement in my overall wellbeing. It is not a diet about weight loss, although many people do trim a few pounds. It's about avoiding foods that can be toxic to your blood type. I'm a type A and do feel a whole lot better about life with fewer animal proteins and minimal dairy.
Emma, UK

If somebody told you could could put as much petrol as you wanted into your car but you could no longer put oil, water, antifreeze etc into it, would you listen to them? Probably not, because after a while, you know that the car wouldn't run properly. Why can't people understand that their bodies are complex machines that need protein, fat, dairy, fruit & veg and carbohydates to work properly?
Amanda, UK

Katie Hamilton, I'm in day 4 of the Carol Vorderman detox, it's not too bad actually. I'm missing cheese and chocolate most, but most of her meals are pretty tasty (if a pain to have to cook). My advice is to live off her delicious soups for the month, I am.
Amy Samson, UK

I've just started it too - just spent a FORTUNE on organic nuts and seeds. I'm not so worried about weight loss, just getting shot of my chronic indigestion - is it due to wheat? meat? dairy products? My boyfriend is in shock - he'll either have to do the diet or learn to cook for himself! I'm missing wine the most, wonder if I'll stick it out.
Esther, UK

I will never be a waif - I like cookies and pizza too much! My advice is: 1) if you don't like what you're supposed to eat - or forced to give up too many things you love - you'll never stick to it, or will over-compensate once the diet is over and pile weight back on. 2) try to learn better eating habits - if you learn to appreciate leaner alternatives, you're less likely fall back into pizza mode afterwards. 3) if you "fall off the wagon", don't despair, get back on. You'll get there eventually.
Sonja, UK

Last New Year I resolved to get fit and lose weight. I joined a gym and stopped overeating. I did not diet. I lost 3 stone, feel absolutely great and have had lots of flattering comments. A year later the weight has stayed off and I have stayed fit. No books or faddy diets just plain common sense.
Caroline Haines, Oxfordshire

I eat healthy food - minimise the amount of processed food, don't fry food, and eat lots of fresh fruit and veg. This is keeping me healthy, and keeping my weight down as well.
Brian Jacobs, England

Fad diets are just that - fads. So if you want to lose weight then cut down on what you eat and switch to lower calorie alternatives and start taking more exercise. With this strategy I've lost 4st in 2 years and kept it off.
Johnny Green, UK

I found that a well-stocked fruit bowl on my desk meant that I could munch throughout the day, stave off boredom and steer clear of crisps/choc/pastries etc when I felt a spot peckish. Plus, it helps you on your "way to five" [servings of fruit and veg a day]
Wendy, UK

I lost 2.5 stone on a healthy eating plan. Filling up on fruit & veg instead of snacking on chocolate and treating myself to the odd Whopper with Cheese helped me to stick to it. Tip: Get some of that spray oil to stir-fry with, you use a lot less fat when cooking.
Andy, UK

I found the lo-carb diet effective, especially with two weight lifting sessions a week. You don't get hungry because you can eat as you like (to a point) however your body will not store excess energy as fat because your insulin levels are stabilised. PS: you can eat ice cream, pizza, beer etc, at weekends.
Hamish Johnson, London

I lost a fabulous 3 stone on the Atkins diet in just over 2 months. I then spent 6 months getting over the gout I suffered as a result. The cost of consultants and hospital treatment is not worth the short-term benefit. I've since gained nearly 4 stone.
Andrew Stafford, UK

I went on the Atkins diet for 3 months last year - I lost about 2 stone, felt more awake, slept better, didn't get headaches and never felt hungry once. Yes, I felt appalling for the first 3 days, but the physiological reasons for that are all explained. The bad breath is a pretty bad side effect though.
Alan, UK

I did the Carol Vorderman diet last year - not only did I shed pounds, my hair and nails became stronger and shinier and my skin glowed! After completion I find that I don't crave processed foods and sugar so much anymore.
Lisa, England

I don't deny myself anything when it comes to food and drink. I think the secret is unprocessed organic foods (olive oil, real butter instead of buttery spreads) and to cook from scratch with loads of fruit, veggies, lean organic meat and fish. Don't forget the rice and pasta - you need a certain amount of carbs in your diet. Don't forget to have a good breakfast too - a bowl of oats, tea and toast should do it. Another important thing is to eat slowly, chew your food well and never eat until you're stuffed.
Claire, UK

Every fad diet has passed through our office, with varying results. But if you mention exercise they look at you like you are mad. Combine moderation with exercise and it makes all the difference. One woman here goes to a drive-thru dairy so she does not have to walk through the parking lot to get her milk, butter and cheese!
Jen , US (ex UK)

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