The self-styled 'fat girl from Hollyoaks', actress Mikyla Dodd explores the potential pitfalls faced by slimmers in BBC3's documentary When Diets Go Wrong. We caught up with Mikyla to chew the fat... What short cuts are people using to lose weight? "In the programme we meet people who take diet pills. You can buy them on the internet with no age restriction or health checks. In some cases you don't even get any guidance on dosage. We also look at the faddy diets – maple syrup diet, cabbage soup, LighterLife and so on." Do we have unrealistic expectations about our body shapes? "When you ask people why they want to be thin, they say they want to be like everybody else. But if you look at the people you see in the street, there are all sorts – tall, thin, fat and short." Why aren't people prepared to put in the work to help them lose weight – for instance by exercising? "In our society we want to push a button and make it happen now. We're not really into grafting. But there are no quick fixes and you've got to be in it for the long haul." How good are we at understanding nutrition? "There's a lack of knowledge. People are trying to diet but doing the wrong thing. I could sit down and write a diet based on what I eat, and I pretty much guarantee most people would lose weight on it." What advice can you give to people who can't shift the weight? "If somebody's really struggling, they should be referred to an expert in nutrition. But be careful - there are lots of people out there who claim to be nutritionists." How helpful was taking part in Celebrity Fit Club for you? "I didn't need guidance on exercise, but nutritionist Doctor Adam Carey became my guru. I used to call him at 11 o'clock at night and say: 'Adam, I'm making my lunch for tomorrow. What's the deal with lentils and chickpeas?" Have you noticed a difference in the way people treat you since you lost the weight? "Absolutely. People are constantly asking me out for dinner and wanting to buy me drinks! You're really invisible when you're fat, and that's horrible. Initially I felt quite vulnerable when I lost the weight. I didn't feel like myself, because people were treating me differently." Was it difficult being overweight on an image-conscious show like Hollyoaks? "You have to bear in mind that I was an actress among a lot of models, so on set and in the green room I had no insecurities or inhibitions. But when it came to going to awards ceremonies and having to find outfits to wear, I felt like a second-class citizen." Do men and women diet differently? "Men don't go on the maple syrup diet. They don't read about how Beyoncé lost weight or what pills Britney Spears is taking. They're quite black and white about it: I'll eat less and exercise more." How do you keep your exercise regime going? "I look at exercise in the same vein as having a pedicure or a facial. It's maintenance of my body. If I don't do it, I feel like I'm doing my body a disservice. Also, I treat myself. If I lose a stone, I can buy a handbag, for instance." What's next for you? "I'd like to do some more acting, but I fit into this weird category. Despite losing weight, I'm never going to be the girl next door – I'm six foot tall with red hair! As the years roll on I'll become a character actress, which is code for: 'You're not as pretty as the other girls. You can be somebody's mum or wife." When Diets Go Wrong is on BBC3 on Thursday June 11 at 9pm.
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.