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THE SAD TRUTH: WE SPEND A LIFETIME ON DIETS WHICH ULTIMATELY, DO NOT WORK


deting
Photo: Elena Leya/Unsplash

Australian women are spending, on average, nearly 15 years dieting over the course of their lifetime, new research reveals.


But, in the last decade, the proportion of the population living with obesity has almost doubled., with two in three Australians either living with obesity or are overweight, the equivalent of 12.5 million adults.


The JuniperTrue cost of diet culture’ report shows the toll of our failing diet culture, with a third of women (35%) claiming to have been unsuccessful in their last attempt to lose weight.


This shows not only the enormous time investment, but the mental toll weight loss attempts have on women and the plethora of weight loss programs and regimes that simply are not designed for successful results.


As well, there is a lack of regional access to healthcare professionals for women to achieve a healthy body weight.


With 19% of women spending between three and eight hours each week engaging in thoughts about weight loss - the equivalent of up to an eight-hour working day - it’s not surprising the research found that the mental burden of dieting is taking a heavy toll on women.


Alarmingly, the research found more than a third of women (35%) who think about or engage in activities with the purpose of losing weight say they experience negative emotions, including feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, feeling overwhelmed, powerless or sadness.


Endocrinologist and Juniper weight expert, Dr Ramy Bishay, said: Far too often obesity is considered a lifestyle condition.


"So much time and headspace is taken up by dieting and perceived quick fixes, when obesity is a medical condition that requires professional support and medical intervention.


"We simply can’t expect women to undue thousands of years of adaptation to starvation, which has dominated human history, in a matter of weeks of months by ‘eating less and moving more’.

Dr Ramy Bishay,
Dr Ramy Bishay

"This mantra is failing Australian women. It’s hard-wired, built-in physiology. This report captures this precisely.”


While the report illuminated that weight loss is, indeed, on the minds of Australian women, it revealed a true need for long-term solutions that negate these obsessive thought patterns.


Juniper GPs agree that weight loss is key for unlocking long-term health benefits and longevity, but they also understand that achieving these outcomes can be hindered by our environment, genetics, lifestyles, and factors as simple as medical access.


The Juniper Weight of the Nation report also revealed:


Restricting eating, or even thinking about dieting is eating into women’s time


● Six in 10 women are either dieting or restricting their eating habits to lose weight at some time each year.


● Almost one million Australian women revealed they are permanently on a diet or practicing restrictive eating to lose weight.


The mental toll of dieting and restrictive eating is weighing heavy on women


● More than a third of women (35%) who think about or engage in activities with the purpose of losing weight say they experience negative emotions when they do so, including feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, feeling overwhelmed, powerless, or sadness.


Expert support is key to keeping kilos off


● More than two in five (42%) Australian women who diet say that on their last weight loss attempt, they did not consult a healthcare professional.


● Australian women who consulted with an expert were more successful in their last attempt at weight loss compared to those women who did not (72% compared to 54%).


Highlighting the geographical barrier to accessing health care professionals’ weight loss advice


● One in five (19%) of those living in regional areas who didn’t consult a health professional during their last attempt at dieting cited they either could not get an appointment or did not have a regular GP or nearby health professional to talk to about weight loss.


● Those in regional areas are more likely than their city counterparts to experience negative emotions when it comes to thinking about or engaging in activities with the purpose of losing weight (38% versus 33%).


Dieting and generational behaviours


● Gen Zers who diet are most likely to have started dieting prior to 18 years of age (66%) compared to Millennials (15%), Gen X (22%) and Baby Boomers (17%)


● Gen Z (47%) are most likely to experience negative emotions when they think about or engage in activities with the purpose of helping them to lose weight followed by Baby Boomers (43%), Gen X (34%) and Millennials (27%).


● Gen Z are most likely to experience feeling overwhelmed (32%) and stressed/anxious (30%) when thinking about dieting and weight loss compared to older generations.


● Among Australian women who have tried dieting or restricting food to lose weight, one in four (23%, 1.4 million women) say they first started dieting as a minor, with 15% (860,000 women) saying this was under the age of 15 years and 4% (217,000 women) saying it was under 12 years of age.


In response to the failure of typical diet mantra of ‘eat less, move more’ to help many women lose weight, Dr Bishay said a combination of prescription medication and holistic support services could help them ‘kick start’ metabolic function and help lose the weight for good.





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