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London - If using your imagination led to weight loss, millions of British women would be on to a winner.

A survey reveals that they go to extraordinary lengths to appear thinner, including drying their hair before weighing in or even setting the scales to less than zero.

Seven percent of the 2 000 women questioned admitted to blow-drying wet hair in the belief that it makes them lighter, while two percent confessed to fiddling with the scales.

More common methods used by women to exaggerate weight loss included going to toilet beforehand (53 percent) and weighing themselves as soon as they get out of bed (37 percent) – believing they are at their lightest at dawn.

Nearly one in ten women remove all their jewellery before a weigh-in and an extreme 2.5 percent will not eat the day before. Bizarrely, four percent of women even breathe in while on the scales in the hope they will be lighter.

The research into the dieting views of women aged over 30 was commissioned by Splenda, the sugar alternative brand.

One in four respondents said dieting was more stressful than moving house, while another 15 percent said it was more stressful than childbirth and 12 percent said getting divorced caused less grief.

It became such an obsession that nearly one in five weighed themselves every day while dieting. And it was the stress that led nearly half to fail on a diet.

Sadly, it led to one in four women lying to friends or family about how much weight they had lost. Most said they felt ashamed at not losing enough weight or did not want to appear weak, while 20 percent said they liked the praise when announcing weight loss, even if it was untrue.

Actress and healthy cooking guru Nadia Sawalha, who is part of Splenda’s Small Steps campaign to help dieters, said: “The survey results show how stressful women find dieting and the negative impact this can have on overall weight loss.

“Every diet I’ve tried has turned out to be a temporary fix. Making drastic dietary changes is never going to work – I need small changes that can be easily incorporated into my life.”

Hannah Vose, a spokesperson for Splenda said: “The real test of a diet is not just losing a few pounds quickly, but making small changes to your lifestyle and diet that last for years and can make a big difference.” - Daily Mail