However, when you’re young there is often little visible evidence of the damage being done.
So NIKKI WATKINS met three girls in their early twenties who eat, smoke or drink too much.
With the help of computer wizardry (find out more at changemyface.com) we have shown them how their choices will reflect in their faces in ten years’ time.
And Sun Doctor Carol Cooper and The Harley Street Skin Clinic’s Lesley Reynolds Khan give their advice to our shocked trio.
The junk food eater
AMY Barrett Singh, 25, a teaching assistant from Tamworth, Staffs, eats calorie-laden junk food nearly every day.
Evening meals over a fortnight included curly fries, two frozen pizzas, a McDonald’s meal with a milkshake, breaded chicken, chip-shop food, two pub roast dinners, a chicken pasty and a veg pasty, Domino’s takeaway pizza, fishfingers, a microwaved fish pie, garlic bread and vegetable samosas.
This is alongside her lunches and snacks of biscuits, cakes, crisps and chocolate. She says:
“I know I have a bad diet, but I never meant for it to be that way.
“When I was younger my mum and brothers ate meat, so when they had their food I would make myself vegetarian food that was easy and convenient.
“When I moved out of home, I was also caring for my grandad and I was so busy I would grab quick snacks and quickly got into this bad habit.
“The picture is horrendous.
“I cannot believe this is me aged by just ten years, I could not bear to look like that at 35.
“I hate the wrinkles on my forehead, the crow’s feet around my eyes and the colour of my skin.
“I hate the double chin and bulges of fat by my nose.
“On my original photo I think my skin looks good and the comparison is shocking, showing you can clearly get away with murder in your early twenties.
“I am going to change my life as I can’t look like this in ten years. I am starting a healthy diet. I’m going to start eating more home-cooked foods and will replace my unhealthy snacks with lots of fresh fruit and veg.
“I think I will really notice the savings in money, as takeaways are not cheap. I’m sure my husband will feel much healthier with a new diet too.
“This is the best thing I have ever done as it has really made me think about my nutrition.”
CAROL’S VERDICT: “Junk food is loaded with calories, fat and salt.
“Weight is likely to go up and this kind of diet can raise your blood cholesterol levels and make you metabolise glucose less well.
“You’re more likely to develop diabetes and high blood pressure and even heart disease and a stroke as a result.
“The risk of heart disease depends on how advanced the changes have got by the time the person swaps to a healthier diet.
“If there are a lot of fatty cholesterol deposits, or blood pressure has been very high for a while, some changes in the heart and blood vessels might be irreversible.”
LESLEY’S VERDICT: “Processed foods are packed with fat and additives that can trigger inflammation in the skin and create skin-wrinkling free radicals.
“Expect a dull and lifeless complexion if your diet doesn’t include plenty of antioxidant-rich fresh fruit and green vegetables.
“Junk food is also full of sugar which speeds up the breakdown of elastin and collagen in the skin. This will result in saggy, loose skin and more lines and wrinkles — in short, premature ageing.
“Eat foods with a low GI index, which means swapping white bread, pasta and rice for wholegrains — and steer clear of sweets and puddings.”
PICTURE framer Emily Leonard, 24, from Kings Lynn in Norfolk, drinks an average of 24.5 units of alcohol a week — ten units or one bottle of wine over the Government’s recommendation of 14. She says:
“I started drinking aged 15 on weekends and when I went to university we drank a disgusting amount.
“My alcohol intake has been cut down from my student days.
“Now I drink mainly at the weekends and the odd week night, because it seems the norm.
“I don’t really think about it. I was shocked by the picture.
“I know I should cut down and this definitely scares me.
“I hate the chubby face, how my eyes look small and saggy and the redness.
“I don’t want to look back when I’m in my thirties and wish I hadn’t drunk that much.”
CAROL’S VERDICT: “While it may take years to damage the liver, you can expect it to raise blood pressure within months, so it can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
“The 24.5 units is enough to lower the chances of conceiving, increase the risk of miscarriage and increase the risk of breast cancer.
“Booze also thins the bones. Plus it is a depressant, so it can affect mood, and impact on relationships.
“Stopping drinking reduces high blood pressure, often within weeks.
“Severe liver damage is permanent but, with minor changes, improvements can often be seen within two months.”
LESLEY’S VERDICT: “Alcohol dilates blood vessels which can show up as thread veins on the face.
“If Emily continues her lifestyle this is one of the problems she will most probably encounter.
“Alcohol can also cause rosacea which causes the skin to look red and flushed.
“She can also expect to develop more lines and wrinkles as her skin will be continually dehydrated.”
LAUREN O’Reilly, 23, smokes 80 cigarettes a week. The purchasing assistant from Purley, Surrey, admits she wants to cut back as she realises the habit has terrible health implications. She says:
“I know that smoking is terrible for my health and I’ve been doing it since I was 15. I want to give up, so maybe seeing what my face will look like in ten years will push me in the right direction.
“The picture is really horrible, I look 20 years older rather than ten.
“The lines strike me first, and the crow’s feet around my eyes are so dramatic. My skin looks grey and I hate the wrinkles around my neck.
“I know I can look better than that if I quit smoking, so this will be the motivation I need.”
CAROL’S VERDICT: “Smoking 80 cigarettes a week is bound to impact on health.
“Young smokers have a five times higher risk of a heart attack. Heavy smoking causes bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, mouth and throat cancer, bladder and stomach cancer.
“Smokers can have trouble conceiving and are more likely to develop complications in pregnancy. Women who smoke go through the menopause at an earlier age and are more likely to get brittle bones.
“Smoking is also linked with gum disease and tooth loss.
Stopping smoking begins to reduce the risk of heart disease within days, and the benefits continue.”
LESLEY’S VERDICT: “The best beauty advice for anyone who smokes is to give up immediately.
“After sun damage, smoking is one of the main environmental factors causing premature ageing.
“Smoke affects the flexibility of skin, leading to lines and a thick, leathery texture.
“Nicotine narrows the blood vessels in the skin, depriving it of oxygen.
“The good news is even people who have smoked for many years, show less facial lines and improve skin tone once they quit.”