England’s Chief Medical Officer has accused large mannequins of “normalising” obesity and making people feel that being overweight is acceptable.
Dame Sally Davies also said that many people do not recognise they have a weight problem, citing data that shows 52 percent of overweight men and 30 percent of overweight women think they have a problem.
In December, the Debenhams clothes store introduced size 16 mannequins and urged other high street shops to do the same. Equalities minister Jo Swinson has also called for stores to promote a more “diverse” range of sizes.
But Dame Sally has criticised the move, saying: “I have long been concerned that being underweight is often portrayed as the ideal weight, particularly in the fashion industry.
“Yet I am increasingly concerned that society may be normalising being overweight.
“Larger mannequins are being introduced into clothes shops, ‘size inflation’ means that clothes with the same size label have become larger in recent decades, and news stories about weight often feature pictures of severely obese people, which are unrepresentative of the majority of overweight people.”
Size 16 is the average size for British women, but most stores currently use mannequins between sizes 8 and 10.
Dame Sally’s comments come as part of a larger report on Britain’s obesity crisis. To combat Britain’s expanding waistlines, she also called for a “sugar tax” to push up the price of fatty foods.
Adults and children consume too much food, she said, with a third of added sugar in children’s diets coming from fizzy drinks and fruit juices.
Dame sally said: “This is an alarming proportion. Soft drinks are easily avoidable sources of added sugar. I call on manufacturers to ramp up reformulation of products to use less sugar.
“If voluntary efforts fail to deliver then we, as a society, may need to consider the public health benefits that could be derived from regulation such as a “sugar tax”.”