Celebrities are being "irresponsible" in endorsing fad diets that could be harmful, the British Dietetic Association says today.

Celebrities are being "irresponsible" in endorsing fad diets that could be harmful, the British Dietetic Association says today.

Health experts are planning an attack against "gimmicky" diet regimes, with a back-to- basics campaign that will urge people to lose weight simply by reducing the amount they eat and exercising more.

The latest fad diet to hit Britain is the Perricone Prescription, in which followers have to eat grilled salmon twice a day - and very little else. The book for the diet, which goes by the same name, has sold a million copies in America and the regime has been followed by the actors Bruce Willis and Julia Roberts, and the supermodel Heidi Klum.

It was launched in Britain last month, and is already on its way to becoming a bestseller.

Nicholas Perricone, the man behind the book, claims the regime helps people to lose weight and gives them a natural facelift into the bargain in 72 hours. As well as eating salmon, dieters have to cut out a long list of foods, including many fruits and vegetables.

Health experts warned that such a protein-rich diet, apart from being expensive, could harm the kidneys. Elizabeth Ward, of the British Kidney Patients Association, said: "A diet such as this may well increase problems and lead to serious kidney malfunction."

The Atkins Diet, in which adherents must cut out carbohydrates but can eat bacon, fat and sausages, has long been the subject of controversy. Experts have also criticised the Mayo Diet, where people are encouraged to eat until they are full, but have a grapefruit with every meal, which is said to "burn off" the calories.

Amanda Wynne, of the British Dietetic Association (BDA), said: "We are concerned about these diets, and the way in which celebrities advocate them is irresponsible. Some celebrities ... are naturally beautiful and slim; that is part of their allure and success.

"They may naturally have a metabolism that makes it easy for them to lose weight, but 'ordinary' people look up to celebrities and think that, if only they follow the same diet, they will look like that too. They are being sold an impossible dream.

"Celebrities are not nutritionists. They should not be giving out advice on the best way to lose weight."

The BDA is planning a campaign against the fad diets, aimed at encouraging people to lose weight sensibly and slowly.

"The simple fact is that the total number of calories you eat, minus the calories you expend in energy and exercising, will determine how much weight you lose. People do not need to spend money on books or videos or supplements."

But the experts may be fighting a losing battle against the bulging profits of the diet gurus. The diet book industry is a multimillion-pound business. The only book selling more copies than the latest Atkins offering is the latest Harry Potter.


ATKINS DIET: Fill up on steak, fish, butter and bacon but cut out carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, fruit and vegetables

Celebrity adherents: Geri Halliwell, Jennifer Aniston, Minnie Driver

FACE READING DIET: Analysis of the skin, eyes and hair determines which foods you can and can't eat

Celebrity adherent: Kate Winslet

PERRICONE PRESCRIPTION: Two portions of salmon a day, eliminating carbohydrates and many fruit and vegetables

Celebrity adherents: Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez

BLOOD GROUP DIET: Your blood group determines a strictly defined list of what you can eat

Celebrity adherent: Martine McCutcheon

HAY DIET: You can't eat proteins and carbohydrates at the same meal

Celebrity adherent: Elizabeth Hurley

CABBAGE SOUP DIET: Replaces meals with a "fat burning" soup

Celebrity adherent: Sarah-Michelle Gellar