Sun, Jan 01, 2006 - Page 6 News List

British unlikely to take up a fad diet this New Year: poll

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

New Year is often marked by the introduction of the latest eating fad, but new consumer research has revealed that the British are shunning weight-loss regimes and have become a nation of Nodis -- non dieters.

The decline of the formal diet in a nation where obesity in men has almost doubled in 10 years to 23.6 percent means that about 20 percent fewer people are counting calories compared with five years ago; instead, Britons, according to research for high street retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S), have changed their lifestyles to eat more balanced meals.

Five years ago only 50 percent admitted to eating well and one in five was on a diet, but now 67 percent eat well, the research reveals. Less than one in 10 (7 percent) now follow strict eating regimes.

The research echoes the UK Food Standards Agency's national diet and nutrition survey -- carried out every five years -- which reveals that in 2001 17 percent of the 2,000 people polled were on diets.

The M&S findings shows more than half (51 percent) consider that they eat healthily but do not go on diets. More than a third (38 percent) want to eat healthily but fall off the wagon regularly, 10 percent say they constantly eat bad food and just 1 percent say they follow the latest fads.

The survey of 1,000 people reveals that one in five give up a diet after a month.

The survey also shows that more than one in 10 (11 percent) do not know what to buy to eat healthily and half (50 percent) do not eat well because it takes too long to prepare a wholesome meal.

Jackie Lowdon, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, said: "We welcome this research. For a long time we have been saying that instead of dieting the emphasis should be on healthy eating and lifestyle. Fad diets often fail, but if you change your lifestyle so that you eat more healthily the weight stays off."

"Dieting makes you think of restrictions, which means many people give up after a few weeks or less. If you change the way you eat you can still enjoy that cream cake, but not every day," she said.

Dietician Lyndel Costain added: "People are trying to eat healthily as they are much more aware of how important a balanced diet is for good health."

The shoppers' preference for a better diet is reflected in supermarket sales -- fewer sugary and fatty snacks are being sold, according to the Grocer magazine's annual survey of food sales.

Chocolate, biscuits and pizzas have been shunned in favor of mineral water, yoghurts and smoothies.

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