‘Secret’ snacking contributes to obesity crisis

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

64% of UK adults are obese
64% of UK adults are obese

Related tags: Obesity

Weight watchers are ruining their diets by giving in to the multitude of tempting snack foods available to them, which is making them feel guilty and emotional.

That’s according to figures from consumer research company Canadean, indicating 68% of British adults broke their diets with snacking, but hid this from family, colleagues and partners, as they felt guilty.

A quarter of British adults responding to the survey went on a diet in the past six months, but found it hard to stick to.

“Most diets see snacking as one of the main reasons for weight-gain and therefore ban or severely restrict snacking in-between meals,” ​said Jonathan Khosravani, research analyst for Canadean.

‘Seen as a failure’

“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.”

As a result, a ban on snacking did not ensure successful weight loss, he added. Consumers would be unsuccessful if they tried to cut out a habit of a lifetime, which would cause them to relapse.

Despite a growing diversity of diets from the established – WeightWatchers – to the relatively new ‘paleo diet’, those consumers likely to follow a diet hadn’t changed, claimed Khosravani.

Females between the ages of 25 and 44 were the most likely to diet and twice as many women (32%) went on diets compared to men (16%) in the past six months, according to Canadean figures.

“Although male overweight and obesity levels almost mirror that of women, dieting is still perceived as a more feminine endeavour,” ​Khosravani added.

Such a sentiment could be linked to social pressures on women to be slim, tall and healthy. In contrast, the social perception of the male body image was more flexible and allowed for more body shapes and sizes, he added.

‘Women who feel guilty’

“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).”

Meanwhile, 64% of UK adults are overweight or obese. Globally there are 2.1bn overweight people​, which is more than a quarter of the world’s population, according to figures from the Lancet’s Global Burden of Disease Study 2013​.

In 2008, World Health Organisation figures showed that 1.4bn adults were overweight.

Half of the world’s obese population live in just 10 countries and the UK has the third highest rates of obesity in Western Europe, according to the Lancet​. More than 65% of men and 57% of women in the UK are obese or overweight.

Obesity in figures:

  • 64% of UK adults are obese
  • 25% of British adults went on a diet in the past six months
  • 2.1bn of the global population is obese
  • 67% of men in the UK are overweight or obese
  • 57% of women in the UK are overweight or obese
  • 10 – the number of countries where half the world’s obese population live

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