The award, backed by the Home Office, seeks to recognise publications that challenge the use of unrealistic images and encourage more diversity.
Psychologies magazine was also highly commended for its work in this field.
The winning magazine took the decision to use real women instead of models on its covers throughout 2011 and into 2012, using the tag line: ‘No models, no celebs - just you!’
The Home Office worked with the Professional Publisher’s Association to help shape the criteria for the Diversity Award as part of the Government’s ongoing body confidence campaign.
Diverse body images
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, who presented the award, said: ‘I am thrilled to present this very special award to Essentials magazine. By using real women on their covers instead of models and celebrities they have set an excellent example.
‘It sends out a signal to the great and good across the publishing world that diversity of body image is a real issue that cannot be ignored.’
The awards are the magazine publishing sector’s leading event, with publishers competing in a total of 22 categories.
The judges said: ‘Essentials really puts diversity into practice, clearing its front covers for unique portraits of real women. This is the title currently setting the standards for all other titles in this area.’
The ceremony took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel last night.