Diets don’t work. It seems like such an obvious, undeniable statement. But if it is true, why does the diet industry continue to thrive? Well, because people always want to lose weight. So when one diet fails to achieve the desired results, it’s off to the next one. In some cases like with major commercial diet brands, they’ve created such a strong brand loyalty that people will often go back to their approach over and over again.
While pondering this simple but important question of why diets fail, I asked two health authors and advocates to chime in.
“In my experience, the key question isn’t ‘Why do diets fail?’, but instead ‘Why do experts keep telling us to eat in ways that we can’t keep up?’,” said Jonathan Bailor, author of The Smarter Science of Slim.
In simplest terms, it’s a matter of supply and demand. It’s just that in this case, the consumer continually goes back to a product that fails them. Could you imagine any other industry this logic would work for?
Racha Zeidan, author of Great Body No Diet, brought up the inherent inflexibility of most diets as an overlooked reason for their failure. She says they fail “because they do not take into consideration the fact that you do not require the same amount of energy on a daily basis. As your level of activity fluctuates, your body needs replenishment accordingly.”
Are People Giving Up On Dieting?
According to data compiled by ABC News last year, dieting is a $20 billion industry when you account for products and services like books, drugs, and weight loss surgery. But are people slowly giving up on dieting?
At the beginning of the year, market research company the NPD Group released data that showed 23 percent of women they surveyed said they were on a diet at some point in 2023. In 1992, it was 35 percent. Their research also showed that people who were on diets were on them for a shorter period of time.
“Our data suggests that dieters are giving up on diets more quickly than in the past,” said Harry Balzer, vice president of the NPD Group. “In 2004, 66 percent of all dieters said they were on a diet for at least six months. In 2023, that number dropped to 62 percent.”
Are people failing on their diets, or are their diets failing them? Maybe it’s time for a simpler approach, one that doesn’t leave us deprived, and is about long-term lifestyle change, not short-term fad diet results.
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