The Diet Industry and Girl Gangs

In her own inimitable style, Ann Widdecombe gets to grips with two thorny, thoroughly modern issues — the diet industry and girl gangs.

Widdy doesn’t believe in diets. She reckons all you need to stay fit is to eat less and move more, and so prepares to challenge the billion-pound diet industry.

She meets some Slimmers of the Year, who went on to pile the pounds back on afterwards, and tackles what she perceives as the “downright irresponsibility and cruelty” of magazines and newspapers – many of which she sees as buying into the slimming industry, with damaging results to the body image of young women.

She visits a woman living the kind of life she despairs of – a life ruled by calorie counting – and sets out to change her habits. And she attempts to combat British schoolgirls’ obsession with their weight as, in conjunction with psychologist Linda Papadopoulos, she pilots an education programme to reverse the youngsters’ negative self-perceptions by teaching them how to ditch the diet guilt and enjoy their relationship with food.

Girl gangs bully, terrorise and abuse – and Ann has had enough. And she’s in no mood to pussyfoot around as she examines the havoc they wreak in our communities. Ann visits the folk who say that their lives are being ruined; witnessing first-hand the drunken, violent and anti-social behaviour these girls subject decent families to. But, having seen the problem from one perspective, it’s time for her to see it from the other as she tries to convince one gang member to let her move in with them so she can study the difficulties parents face when trying to take control.

Ann also flies to the US to see the schemes that help extract girls from gang life – and may even take some of the British girls with her.

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