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C4 sparks health fears with extreme dieting documentary

LONDON - A Channel 4 documentary where women try extreme weight-loss methods has been accused of encouraging dangerous crash diets.

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In the programme, 'Super-Skinny Me: The Race to Size Zero', a group of average-sized female journalists use the radical techniques favoured by thin celebrities and models to try to slim to a size two.

The 60-minute film will also examine the recent Hollywood trend for being ultra-thin.

It is being made by independents Betty TV and aims to look at how the super-skinny American fad of elevating a size zero, a UK size two, to the size of choice is now permeating British culture.

It is expected to be shown early next year.

Celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Victoria Beckham and Nicole Richie have been criticised for slimming down to the dangerous size and are feted on "pro-anorexia" websites for it.

Defending the programme, Liam Humphreys, Channel 4 commissioning editor of features, said: "This is a shock doc with a real sense of purpose -- this astonishing journey provides the perfect opportunity to debunk the current clamour for all things super-skinny."

The film has been criticised for endangering the health of those taking part.

Steve Bloomfield, of the Eating Disorders Association, said there are "some potentially quite serious risks to the participants". Extreme weight loss has been linked to infertility and osteoporosis, as well as putting a strain on the heart.

The filmmakers have insisted that constant medical supervision and expert guidance will be on hand throughout. They have also pointed out that the dangerous methods shown are already in the public domain.

The programme will examine reports that women have taken to using drugs like Adderall, normally used for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder because weight loss is a side effect.

'Super-Skinny Me: The Race to Size Zero' follows the decision to ban skinny models from Madrid fashion week after South American model Luisel Ram died of heart failure after fasting.

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