Junkfood Science: Women dying for size zero figures

December 07, 2006

Women dying for size zero figures

“Thousands of young women desperate for a “size zero” figure are putting their lives at risk by taking laxatives in the mistaken belief that it speeds up weight loss,” the Times reported yesterday.

Mintel, the consumer goods analyst, has found that the British market for laxatives is now worth £52 million, up 33 per cent from 2001. The company is in no doubt that desperate slimmers are behind the surge.

“On the flipside of over-eating in Britain, we have seen a pre-occupation with undereating and perpetual dieting,” said David Bird, senior market analyst at Mintel. Experts on eating disorders say laxative abuse is now rife, with young people in particular totally unaware of the huge danger it poses to their health....they rob the body of vital vitamins and minerals, and, most significantly, potassium, which can result in heart failure.”

Research commissioned by the Eating Disorders Association found that one in five women took laxatives to lose weight, with the figures far higher (11 per cent) among female students...

However, the risks of taking large numbers of laxatives are serious. Melissa Booth died of heart failure, aged just 17, as a result of her use of laxatives and diuretics....She died because of a lack of potassium in her system, which triggered a heart attack....

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