The Weight Foundation

Dieting Misery Rampant Says Weight Charity

New research is uncovering the disturbing truth of the extent of unhappiness with food, eating and self-image.


Manchester, England, UK -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/26/2006 --Research by a weight-control charity suggests that many more women than previously recognized are living their lives dominated by anxieties over eating and dieting.

The Weight Foundation says that obsessive dieting is to blame for great misery and that too little help is on offer for individuals who spend their lives locked into depressing and often unhealthy dieting regimes.

For many women, the panicky run-up to peak holiday time - and also the Thanksgiving period - are triggers for fresh cycles of self-starvation, with the lost weight often creeping back on.

However, The Weight Foundation is discovering that the extent of the worldwide dieting misery is much wider than these weight-loss and regain rituals.

The research being conducted by the charity's founder through the UK's Manchester Metropolitan University is shedding light on the millions of dieters worldwide who suffer long-term distress but do not undergo any dramatic swings in weight.

“The accepted pattern of dieting is what has been called Yo-Yo-ing,” explains Evans, a 46 year old Cambridge University social sciences graduate, professional motivational trainer and private therapist.

“Instead, we call this Swinger dieting because we find whether and how quickly weight returns depends on many factors and is not automatic like a Yo-Yo. However, the more you look at what is actually going on in the privacy of people's own homes, this is just the tip of the dieting iceberg.”

Flatliner dieting is identified as being a constant battle between “good” and “bad” foods, with people varying between treating and punishing themselves with food. These mini-dieting cycles can be packed within as short a time as a single day. The term “Flatliner” refers both to the lack of any jagged peaks of weight gain and loss and also to the emotional flatness and misery usually experienced with this lifestyle. There is constant tension between overeating and self-denial.

Lifer dieting refers to people who never really come off a diet at all, even though they may swap diets now and then. Lifers fear that breaking their strict eating regime for just a single day might spell disaster. Occasions such as weddings and family gatherings are times of high anxiety.

Evans says, “The majority of research to date on eating and dieting problems has tended to concentrate on the extreme areas of Anorexia and Bulimia. What we are finding, particularly horrible as these conditions are, is that there are potentially huge numbers of dieters experiencing great distress.

“As too little has been explored about the nature of dieting itself, many of these people suffer in silence, without understanding or support. For us, any type of dieting which tends to dominate existence is 'Hardcore Dieting' – and we think it is a terrible drag on peoples' lives.”

Inquiries from desperate long-term dieters are already coming in from across the English-speaking World. There is an ongoing invitation for extra research participants to help gain extra insights into Hardcore Dieting.
“For instance, what we are already seeing is that in the U.S, even more than in the UK, is a widespread cultural acceptance that a dieting lifestyle is the morally correct lifestyle. We believe that this is leading a lot of people up a blind alley, nutritionally and emotionally,” says Evans.

The nonprofit Weight Foundation, which is four years old, has been granted funding from the Millennium Commission-backed UnLtd social enterprise incubator. This was to develop its new website and to turn itself a charity to handle growth in demand.

It is Evans' goal to develop an international network of committed individuals who can mentor dieters to move away from depressing and destructive habits. The philosophy is that by treating food and eating as mainly just a necessity of life, weight will find its natural – normally lighter – level.

“The key difference between happily slim people and unhappily overweight individuals is that, for the former, food plays a very small part in their lives.”

“Dieting can often make people overweight and it will always make them unhappy. The key to lasting weight control is to enjoy a healthy and natural relationship with food.” says Evans.

“It is only by developing a thorough understanding of what holds Hardcore Dieting in place that this message will stop falling on deaf ears.”