Health Insurance

Trying to lose weight? Biggest pitfalls revealed – and how to deal with them

A new study has revealed more than half of UK adults turn their back on weight loss after just one slip-up.

Britons are being urged to learn simple coping mechanisms to deal with setbacks to keep them from an all-or-nothing approach.

Of the 2,003 UK adults surveyed by Censuswide for Slimming World, 77% said they had tried to lose weight, with the average person trying seven times to shed the pounds.

But just one setback can derail 53% of dieters, and nearly one in five (19%) said the single setback made them give up on weight loss altogether.

The main reasons people falter on their weight loss journey are:

  • Feeling hungry (38%)
  • Stressful life event (29%)
  • Missing favourite foods (25%)
  • Failing to plan meals (23%)

The top situations that put people on the road to temptation are:

  • Having unhealthy snacks in the house, such as chocolate, crisps, cakes and biscuits (41%)
  • Saturday night takeaways (21%)
  • Cakes and pastries when buying coffee (20%)
  • Fast food after a night out drinking (18%)

The danger time for most people is between 6pm and 10pm with 38% of respondents straying then.

Read more: How much do we spend on food in UK? Average UK household cost of food

And if people do have setbacks, it can ruin their determination, with 31% saying it takes them more than a month to find the motivation to get back on track.

However dieticians say setbacks are inevitable, but it's how you deal with them that counts.

James Stubbs, a Professor in appetite and energy balance and the University of Leeds, said: "For anyone looking to lose weight, it’s important to remember that this is not a quick fix, it’s a gradual process. As with any journey it is good to be prepared, to have plans, tools to help you navigate, and coping strategies for when the journey can get difficult.

“Behaviour change plays a key role and there will be days when setbacks will be experienced and things don’t go so well, which is perfectly natural.

“Learning how to navigate setbacks is what helps people develop the skills needed for lasting behaviour change. Even people who are highly successful at losing weight and keeping it off have setbacks and revisit some of the strategies they used to lose weight initially."

Dr Amanda Avery, Slimming World’s health and research consultant dietitian, said building resilience and self-compassion was key to overcoming obstacles.

She added: "As we’ve seen with the results of this research, setbacks on a weight loss journey are to be expected.

"Things don't always go perfectly to plan and that's life. What’s key when this happens is to be kind to yourself.

"Learning to accept that a setback is part of your slimming journey can help stop you being derailed altogether.

"The results of the survey support this, with more than half of adults questioned (57 per cent) agreeing that learning how to deal with setbacks on their weight loss journey helped them to navigate the ups and downs of weight loss."

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.