Equalities minister Jo Swinson is sick and tired of magazine features on how to lose 10 pounds in 48 hours by only eating cayenne pepper while turning counter-clockwise three times under a full moon — the sort of stories that appear without fail after the holiday stress-eating trend pieces have run their course.
"Shed the fad diets and fitness myths," Swinson wrote in an open letter to magazines geared towards both men and women, urging them to "celebrate the beauty of diversity in body shape, skin colour, size and age" instead. More from the letter, care of the BBC:
"I am sure that you want to promote a healthy lifestyle for your readers but at this time of year in particular far too much of magazine coverage tends to focus on irresponsible, short-term solutions and encourages readers to jump on fad diet bandwagons.
"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 - and not how to drop a stone in five days - you should encourage reasonable expectations, instead of dangerous ones, along with exercise and healthy eating."
Will the magazines listen? Psh, no, although Jane Johnson, former editor of Closer and The Sun's Fabulous magazine, told the BBC that magazines "are now are very much about holistic wellbeing" and stay away from miracle diets. "Readers do go to them for advice, rather than the government," Johnson said.
HMMM. Well, the cover of the Daily Mail website's health section currently features "Left it too late to slim down for your holiday? Melt away fat in TWO WEEKS with new diet" next to "Boy, 12, taunted about being 'chubby' had to be force-fed in hospital after eating just 50 calories a day." So, even if few editors actually listen to Swinson, it's ideologically important that she's making an effort.