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Europe: Secret snacking found to break diets among UK consumers, finds survey


The rise of obesity levels has led to a huge boost in the number of people dieting in the UK, finds a survey of 2,000 UK adults conducted by Canadean in November 2014.

In turn, this has caused needless emotional distress, guilt and low self-esteem for people that ‘break’ their diets with snacking, finds new Canadean survey.

The survey shows that a quarter of British adults (25%) went on a diet in the past six months, as 64% of UK adults are now overweight or obese.

However, 68% of these dieters ‘break’ their diets with snacking, while 44% feel guilty afterwards and decide to keep snacking a secret from their friends, colleagues or partners.

“Most diets see snacking as one of the main reasons for weight gain and therefore ban or severely restrict snacking in-between meals. This makes UK consumers fear that they will be seen as a failure when they don’t stick to the rules of the diet and slip in a snack,” says research analyst Jonathan Khosravani.

The survey finds that diets that ban snacking do not always correlate to successful weight loss.

“Changing ingrained eating habits is a very difficult task and most people will at times find themselves relapsing into old habits – such as snacking,” says Khosravani.

Guilt trips after snacking while on a diet

The growing diversity of diets and health regimes, ranging from more established diets such as WeightWatchers to relatively new and male-focused health regimes such as the ‘paleo diet,’ may suggest that the demographic of people on diets is changing.

However, Canadean data shows that females between the ages of 25 and 44 remain most likely to diet.
Moreover, twice as many women (32%) went on diets than men (16%) in the last six months.

“Although male overweight and obesity levels almost mirror that of women, dieting is still perceived as a more feminine endeavour. This can be linked to societal pressures on the female body to be slim, tall, and healthy, while social perceptions of the male body image are more flexible and allow for a variety of body sizes and shapes,” says Khosravani.

This might also explain the higher number of women who feel guilty when they ‘break’ their diets with snacking (six out of 10) compared to men (four out of 10).

Moderate food consumption less common in the UK

“The paradoxical nature of rising obesity rates coupled with increased dieting and health regimes for British adults highlights the problems facing people’s perceptions of food and body image,” says Khosravani.

“With 64% of adults being overweight or obese and 25% on a diet, we need a radical change in the way British consumers interact with food. Sensible and moderate food consumption is becoming less common throughout the UK.”

“On one side of the spectrum, people are consuming too much high-fat, energy-dense foods, causing widespread obesity. On the other hand, some diets force people to needlessly avoid certain types of food and snacks, causing unnecessary guilt, low self-esteem and emotional distress.”