Women are being warned about the dangers of yo-yo diets after a UK-wide survey revealed that more than one in five women have been on at least five diets and regained weight and many have been on at least 20 diets without keeping the pounds off.

The survey of more than 2,300 people, conducted by Slimming World and YouGov, reveals that 21 per cent of women have yo-yo dieted at least five times, 11 per cent have done it at least 10 times and six per cent have dieted and put the weight back on again more than 20 times.

The yo-yo diet figures have been released by Slimming World to mark European Obesity Day (Saturday, May 21) which this year is using the theme 'stop yo-yo' to raise awareness of "the dangerous cycle of repeated loss and regain of body weight and its dramatic effects on mental and physical health"[1].

Dr Jacquie Lavin, Slimming World's Head of Nutrition and Research, says: "Yo-yo diets can be both unhealthy for the body and psychologically upsetting as repeated cycles of weight loss and weight gain cause feelings of failure and a loss of confidence in your own ability to make changes.

"In recent years the UK has seen a huge rise in the number of faddy diets promising rapid weight loss through things like cutting out food groups, following unbalanced eating plans and only consuming liquid foods. However in reality these diets can rarely be kept up in the long term as hunger, feelings of deprivation or other possible side effects force people who follow them to give up and go back to their old way of eating, causing them to put any weight they lost back on again.

"The good news is it's never too late to break the yo-yo cycle and losing weight and keeping it off can be easier than you think. Building confidence in your own ability to make lasting changes is the first step and many people find that having the support of other slimmers who have been through similar experiences can help them realise that they aren't to blame for their previous weight gain.

"While fad diets tend to be based around tiny food portions or banning certain foods, latest research suggests a diet of satiating low energy dense foods like fruit and vegetables, pasta, potatoes, rice, fish and lean meat is more effective for long-lasting weight loss. These foods fill you up and are naturally low in calories. Avoiding feelings of deprivation by enjoying the odd glass of wine or chocolate treat without feeling guilty is also important to long term success."

Slimming World