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Women would swap year to be thinner

Almost one in three women attending university would swap a year or more of their life for their ideal body shape, a survey has suggested.

Most (93%) have also had negative thoughts about their body in the last week, with 31% feeling critical of their figure several times a day.

Almost half (48%) said eating disorders are an issue for women on their campus and 79% would like to lose weight, despite the fact most (78%) are underweight or a normal weight.

On average, women said they wanted to lose more than a stone in weight, with only 3% saying they wanted to gain weight.

Some 30% of those surveyed would trade at least one year of their life for their perfect shape, with 16% saying they would swap one year, 10% saying they would trade two to five years of their life and 2% willing to trade six to 10 years.

Another 1% said they would trade 21 years of their life or more if they could have their perfect body.

Women were also willing to swap other things, with 13% saying they would forego £5,000 of an annual salary, 8% a promotion at work, 6% a first in their degree and 9% spending time with their partner. Some 7% would give up spending time with their family, 9% their friends and 7% would give up their health to achieve their ideal shape.

The study, of 320 women aged 18 to 65 attending UK universities, was carried out for eating disorder charity The Succeed Foundation, in partnership with the centre for appearance research at the University of the West of England (UWE).

Asked which celebrity has the perfect body, women said model Kelly Brook, followed by singer Beyonce, then actresses Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson.

Lead researcher Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, from UWE, said: "The survey took place on university campuses around the UK. The findings highlight that body image is an issue for all women and not just adolescent girls, as is often thought. The other really important finding is that the majority of women surveyed said that more needs to be done to promote positive body image on their university campuses."

@Press Association