London - Magazines have been urged to ditch New Year “miracle diets” that promise to help readers shed the pounds they have piled on over the festive season.

Jo Swinson, the Minister for Women and Equalities, claims such diets – which offer tips on how to lose up to a stone in a matter of days – encourage “dangerous” behaviour and “self-hate”.

In an open letter to women’s, men’s, health and celebrity magazines, she implored editors to stop focusing on short-term solutions and instead encourage sustainable healthy lifestyles.

The Lib Dem MP said: “As editors you owe more to your readers than the reckless promotion of unhealthy solutions to losing weight.

“If your aim is to give practical, sensible advice about losing weight – not how to drop a stone in five days – you should encourage reasonable expectations, instead of dangerous ones, along with exercise and healthy eating.”

Speaking on Five Live, Swinson, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, said: “There’s a real difference between having a crash diet and getting healthier.”

She added: “It is irresponsible for magazines to offer ‘tips, tricks and simple steps’ so that people can be thin. Not healthy or vibrant, just thin.”

Magazines should reflect “real diversity” rather than showing only slim, young models. Editors, she added, “need to be updating the type of January article that they’re putting in their magazines to have a more positive body image rather than the sort of self-hate perpetuated by the fad diet articles”. - Daily Mail