Over half of dieters lose weight ‘in secret’ over fears of being judged or failing

  • More than half of those attempting weight loss don't tell anyone

  • A study of 2,000 adults hoping to slim down revealed that 57% have kept their efforts secret

  • Reasons included concerns about being judged, feeling embarrassed about the need to lose weight and a fear of failure

  • Read on for a further break down of the study's findings including reasons for giving up on a weight loss plan

Stock image of a woman stepping on scales while potentially attempting weight loss. (Getty Images)
Over half of dieters keep attempting weight loss a secret. (Getty Images)

If you're thinking of embarking on a weight loss journey this new year, you may be tempted not to tell anyone and you certainly wouldn't be alone.

That's because new research has revealed found more than half of dieters actually try to lose weight in secret due to fears about being judged or failing to achieve their goals.

A study of 2,000 adults, who are trying to slim down, found that 57% haven’t told anyone about their weight loss attempts.

Almost a third (31%) of those trying to lose weight alone and in secret worry about being judged for being overweight, while 35% say they're keeping quiet so that if they fail, no one will know.

Read more: The NHS' 12-week weight loss plan explained

Of those who have chosen to lose weight alone, 38% did so to feel more in control, while a further 32% say they were embarrassed about feeling the need to lose weight.

Despite this, of all those who are dieting or trying to shed some pounds, 37% value the camaraderie of attempting their weight loss goals with a group and the motivation which comes with it.

And 34% feel more accountable for their weight loss progress when they are doing it alongside others.

Stock picture of a woman smiling after a run. (Getty Images)
Almost a third of those polled say they attempt weight loss in secret because they are embarrassed about needing to lose weight. (Getty Images)

Dr Jacquie Lavin, special advisor on the science of weight management at Slimming World, who commissioned the research, says it is understandable that some people choose to keep their weight loss attempts to themselves.

"Worries about our weight and the decision to start a weight loss journey can feel deeply personal, so it’s natural to think that going it alone might be best," she explains.

“As the survey demonstrates, there are many motivations for wanting to lose weight. Making the decision to lose weight and improve your health is a positive step and not something people should ever feel embarrassed about.

“Trying to lose weight can be difficult, and there are lots of benefits to doing it as part of a group that can make it easier and more enjoyable. These findings show that anyone who’s concerned about their weight should embrace the encouragement and support of losing weight with others, even if that means stepping out of their comfort zones.”

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The same study also found that those polled have attempted to lose weight an average of four times in the past three years.

Turns out men (44%) are more likely than women (34%) to eat or drink unhealthily in front of others, such as accepting sweets, cakes and biscuits in the office when slimming in order to keep up appearances.

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However, it also emerged 12% have given up on a weight loss plan due to feeling lonely.

More than a quarter of solo dieters found it difficult to motivate themselves (28%) or said it was easy to go off track as "no one would know" (27%).

Of those who had previously tried to lose weight in secret, 38% would tell everyone about their weight loss attempt in the future, with another 32% happy to share with anyone who asked.

Fear of failure as well as feeling judged are cited as reasons for keeping dieting a secret. (Getty Images)
Fear of failure as well as feeling judged are cited as reasons for keeping dieting a secret. (Getty Images)

The research, carried out via OnePoll, found witnessing the dieting success of other slimmers was a key benefit of trying to lose weight as part of a group for a third of respondents.

And a further third (34%) believe a benefit of losing weight with others is the element of healthy competition and the chance to show off the efforts they are willing to put in to reach their goals.

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“Losing weight isn’t always easy and going it alone is especially hard," Dr Lavin adds. "We know it’s the shared motivation, plus feeling valued, cared for and understood, which act as a powerful and positive incentive to lose weight, and to keep going if you’re struggling.

“As the survey showed, that shared motivation can be powerful. Our members say seeing the success of other people trying to lose weight is a key benefit of trying to lose weight as part of a group."

Additional reporting SWNS.