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Would women give up sex if it meant being slim?

Would you give up sex to be thin?

Fitness magazine asked 2,400 women if they would sacrifice a full year of sex to be skinny -- and 51 percent said yes.

That was just one of the surprising results of the magazine's new diet survey - a survey that underscored the serious self-esteem and body issues many women have today.

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Other findings: 43 percent of the women in the study have skipped meals regularly to lose weight, 39 percent have taken diet pills, and 40 percent went on their first diet, not only in high school, but possibly in middle school.

On "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," contributor Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a psychologist, said the survey "really says a lot about (women's) body image. Another study I saw yesterday said 61 percent of women are thinking about what their body looks like while they're having sex. So clearly, we are so focused on appearance, and ... bombarded with images of what our appearance should look like -- how thin we should be, how tall we should be, what we should be wearing. It's everywhere. So it's not really surprising that it's the thing that women think about the most, but the things they would give up in order to achieve this ideal is, I think, what's really surprising in the study."

Hartstein called the sex/body image link "a really vicious cycle. Sex can make you feel sexy and can make you feel better. And yet, when you're not feeling good about your body and good in your own skin, you don't feel sexy, so you don't want to have sex. So it's this really tough self-fulfilling prophecy. So we have to figure out where to break it and what needs to break, and women need to figure out where they feel strong and self-confident and self-assured in other ways."

The media, says Hartstein, play an enormous role in delivering the message that women need to be slim.

The message is so ingrained that many turn to quick-fix diets, even though they can be unhealthy.

And the message is resulting in dieting at younger and younger ages, and that's "so disturbing," Hartstein told co-anchor Rebecca Jarvis. "And we're hearing more and more about eating disorders starting so much younger, and really starting in middle school. And the fact of the matter is that we focus on appearance in little girls much more than we do in little boys. So, that message starts at 5, 6 years old. So we need to start to build in our girls ways to feel confident and self-assured, and really build their self-esteem on things that don't tie to appearance -- athletics, art, school, anything else that isn't tied to how they look and really praise those things more. Because that's what they need to hear. And that's what's going to build a difference in their future, so they don't have to focus on appearance as much as we might now.

The full Hartstein interview:

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