ONE in 10 people would starve themselves to lose weight, rising to one in five of those aged 18 to 21, according to a new poll.
The survey of 3,000 people also found one in 20 would consider surgery, such as a gastric band, to shed the pounds.
Dieting was the preferred option for losing weight (48pc of people said it was their first choice) and 11pc would join weight-loss clubs.
Some 3pc of people opt first for a celebrity fitness routine while 2pc say they follow a specific diet, such as only eating protein.
Overall, 8pc of people started to worry about their weight between the ages of three and 13, while 31pc said they were aged 14 to 20. A fifth began worrying when they were 21 to 30, while 10pc were in their 30s.
Asked for the most important reasons for wanting to lose weight, 47pc said to feel better about themselves, 50pc said to get fit and 42pc said because of health concerns. Meanwhile, 7pc go on a diet to look like a celebrity while 22pc diet for a special occasion or party and 31pc do so before a summer holiday.
The research also revealed that men were least likely to be concerned about their weight with more than a third (37pc) having never worried about their body shape compared with 18pc of women.
Catherine Cox, primary care services manager at The Co-operative Pharmacy, which commissioned the survey, said: "These are distressing findings as although the majority of people wanting to lose weight are looking at more sensible options such as weight clubs and dieting, there are a considerable number who are putting their health at risk by not eating.
"A wealth of information and weight-loss options are readily available in pharmacies."