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Health & Families

Trim figure worth shorter life, say British women

Thirty percent of British women surveyed at 20 universities said they would shorten their lives by a year or more in exchange for an ideal body weight, according to a survey released Monday.

Ten percent said two-to-five years was not too high a price to pay for being svelte and shapely, while three percent were willing to give up a decade or more.

"The findings highlight that body image is an issue for all women and not just adolescent girls," said Philippa Diedrichs, a professor at the University of the West of England and the main architect of the survey.

The age of the 320 women surveyed was just under 25 years on average, and ranged from 18 to 65.

The study showed a disconcerting gap between reality and image when it came to self-perception, Diedrichs said.

Nearly four-fifths of the women surveyed said they wanted to lose weight. At the same time, however, 78 percent were actually within or under normal, healthy weight ranges.

More than nine out of 10 women said they had had "negative thoughts" about their appearance during the previous week, and a third said such thoughts had occurred "several times a day."

Five percent of the mainly young women said they had already undergone cosmetic surgery, and another 39 percent said they would go under the knife were it not for the high cost.

Other sacrifices that a quarter of the women were willing to make in order to be and feel thinner included £5,000 (5,670 euros, $8,060) from their annual salary, a promotion at work, spending more time with their partner or family, or even their health.

The survey was conducted by the Succeed Foundation, which seeks to raise awareness and provide support for those affected by eating disorders.