London, April 11: The average British woman worries about the size and shape of her body every 15 minutes ' more than the average man is said to think about sex, which is every 20 minutes.
Research among 5,000 women with an average age of 34 found that just 2 per cent were happy with their body.
They only seemed pleased with a part that is rarely seen - their “slimmish ankles” (54 per cent). Seven in 10 thought their life would improve greatly if they had a better-shaped body. Almost a third “worried about their body, every waking minute”. On average, they wished they were 19 lb slimmer.
The report comes amid increasing concern about the influence on young girls of models such as Kate Moss, who has recovered from a drugs scandal to be named as the new “face” of Calvin Klein.
Parents fear that their children are developing inferiority complexes because they do not look like women they see in magazines and on television. Last week, the author J.K. Rowling berated the self-obsessed world of very thin, highly-paid models, describing them as talking toothpicks.
Today's survey, conducted among readers of the women’s magazine Grazia and on the Emap publishing group’s websites, shows that women are made miserable by their bodies. Three of the celebrities that survey respondents rated as having the best bodies weighed just over seven stone ' Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Victoria Beckham.
Many respondents were dissatisfied with every part of their own appearance ' 87 per cent hated their “podgy thighs”, 79 per cent were unhappy with their waist, 65 per cent were disappointed with the size and shape of their breasts, the same number were unhappy with their feet (65 per cent), and 59 per cent were unhappy with their face.
More than half of those polled were even disappointed with their hands and fingers.
There was widespread discontentment with teeth (57 per cent), thin hair (56 per cent), and neck (63 per cent). Half said they had “muffin tops” ' “podgy rolls sticking out over the top of their waistband”.
Women in Manchester were found to be the most body-obsessed. Those in Newcastle upon Tyne had the most positive body image. Oxford women thought they were the prettiest.
Of those surveyed, four in 10 were married and had children and just over a quarter lived with their partner.
Their average weight was 10st 7 lb, although their ideal was 9st 2 lb. Only 5 per cent were obese while almost half (49 per cent) were normal weight. The average height was 5 ft 5 inches, bra size 36C, waist 30 inches and hips 37.5 inches. They would try almost anything to lose weight.
More than a third had used slimming pills, and one in five had taken laxatives. A third had tried fasting and seven in 10 claimed that they were so diet conscious that they could look at a plate of food and say how many calories were on it.
Jane Bruton, the editor of Grazia, said: “British women are harshly critical of their shape. Many have what is called a normal-abnormal relationship with food. Many are constantly thinking, ‘Shall I eat it, shall I not eat it’. If they find themselves two pounds heavier it can ruin their day.”
The magazine quotes Dr Andrew Hill, of Leeds Medical School, who said: “Nowadays we have the technology to change areas of the body. People can be more critical because they can fix the problem.
“It’s all part of the culture of self-improvement, which wasn’t around 30 years ago.”