The Beckham Effect: 14-Year Olds Want to Be Size Zero

by Tanya Thomas on Oct 16 2009 7:20 AM

How far would you go to copy your pop idol? For teenaged Brit girls obsessed with celebrities' size zero figures, living on less than a meal a day is no big sacrifice.

A Schools Health Education Unit survey found that nearly 10 percent girls between 14-15 years skip breakfast and lunch in a bid to look skinny like Victoria Beckham or Cheryl Cole.

According to the report, 26 percent girls in the 14-15 years age bracket miss breakfast often and 22 percent do not have lunch.

The survey also found that today's girls want to shed pounds more than ever before.

About 40 percent children aged 10 and 11 feel they have to "slim down" although few are really overweight.

The Daily Star quoted the report as saying: "Most of those wanting to lose weight are within the limits of healthy weight and some are already underweight.

"And there is an increasing trend of desire for weight loss."

Health experts have cautioned that a "size zero" fixation could create health problems and even cause death.

Mary George, a representative for eating disorder charity Beat, said: "It is very unwise to skip meals, especially when the body is developing.

"Portrayals of unrealistic body images are particularly influential on young people."