More and more teenagers are including weight loss on their New Year wish list. While many girls and boys still want 'to be punctual, to concentrate on school work and to stop procrastinating', losing weight is becoming increasingly important to them. Sarah Yiu, 12, says she looks up to her elder sister, who is a fashion model. 'My sister is thin, fit and beautiful,' Sarah says. 'She works hard to stay in shape. To follow in her footsteps and become a model, I need to cut down on food and lose weight as quickly as I can.' Sarah is 1.48 metres tall and weighs 36 kilograms. She's aiming to lose four to five kilograms. 'I know I will be underweight if I lose a few more pounds,' she says. 'However, we all grow during puberty. If I don't slim up now, the fat will accumulate and it will be hard for me to get rid of it a few years later. I need to prepare myself for my modelling career.' Donald Tang, 13, stands 1.64m and weighs 45kg. He says he is 'addicted to keeping fit'. 'Last year I started losing weight due to the pressure of entering an elite secondary school,' Donald says. 'I lost my appetite and my weight went down. But I think I look better now. I hope to be taller so I'll look like one of those Japanese stars.' Last month, the Hong Kong Eating Disorders Association (HKEDA) warned that the average age of people suffering from eating disorders is becoming lower. HKEDA resident nutritionist Woo Chi-yam blames the 'thin is beautiful' myth for the growing number of young people suffering from eating disorders in recent years. Ms Woo points out that the average age of patients seeking help is lower, with most of them developing eating disorders when they are 12 or 13. A nine-year-old girl suffering from anorexia nervosa was 1.67m tall but weighed only 32kg, Ms Woo recalls. She ate only two apples a day. Kelly England, model/beauty authority at skincarestory.com, says she has been receiving 'unrealistic and totally dangerous demands concerning weight loss' from young girls and boys. 'I've been trying to give them sensible advice but am now finding it impossible [because] if I don't give them quick fixes, then they look elsewhere to less responsible sources,' Ms England says. 'At first I was shocked when a 12-year-old girl asked me, 'How do I lose a lot of weight fast?' Now sadly, it has become a daily occurrence.' She conducted a survey of 100 young people aged 11 to 16 in Hong Kong last year. Eighty-five per cent of the respondents said they were unhappy with their appearance, while 70 per cent had already been on a diet, the survey revealed. Many teenagers say they go on a diet because 'everyone else is doing it' and because they want to look like models and actresses. The slimming posters on the MTR and buses are not helping either. 'I hope that young people can be confident enough to make their own minds up about what looks good and not be swayed too much by the media,' says Ms England. 'Retouching and hunger are actually not attractive or sustainable. The only things that young people should be doing to look after their appearance and health is to eat fresh food, exercise and remember to use sun block every day. This is the real way to a beautiful future.'