Four out of 10 UK men have dieted in the last year

Four in 10 UK men have followed diets or healthy eating plans over the last year to lose weight, according to research from Aviva health insurance.

UK women are even more likely to have been watching what they eat in the last year: a staggering 64% have been on diets in the last year in order to lose weight, including 70% of women aged 16-24.

The study - which was taken from Aviva’s upcoming Wellbeing report - suggests that men typically prefer to make general ‘healthy eating’ choices in order to shed the pounds, rather than follow a particular regime (24% vs 17%). But amongst under-35s, the opposite is true, with almost double the number of weight-watching men following specific diet plans (39%), compared to those just trying to eat more healthily (20%).  

Likewise, women are more likely to adopt general healthy eating than following a diet plan (36% vs 28%). Unlike the males questioned, this approach was consistent across all age groups.

The most popular weight loss plans for men in the last year were revealed as*: 

Choice of diet / eating plan Percentage of UK men who have adopted in last 12 months 
1. General healthy eating choices  24%
2. Meal replacements e.g. cereal bars / drinks 7%
 3. Calorie-controlled diet  6%
4. Slimming club  6%
5. 5:2 diet   4%
6. Meal supplements  4%
7. Low-carb diet  3%
8. Paleo diet 2%
9. Dukan diet   1%
10. Blood group diet    1%

However, men aged 25-34 chose meal replacement plans above all other regimes, followed by calorie-controlled diets and general healthy eating choices.

For women, the most popular weight loss plans in the last year were revealed as*:

Choice of diet / eating plan Percentage of UK women who have adopted in last 12 months
1. General healthy eating choices 36%
2. Slimming club 21%
3. Calorie-controlled diet  14%
4. Meal replacements e.g. cereal bars / drinks 13%
5. Low-carb diet   7%
6. 5:2 diet 6%
7. Meal supplements 3%
8. Paleo diet   2%
9. Dukan diet  2%
10. Blood group diet 1%

Out of the 2,235 UK adults questioned, almost a third (30%) said they had tried to lose weight by eating more healthily in general, without following a particular diet or food plan. This included nearly a quarter (24%) of men and just over a third (36%) of women.

Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director for Aviva says: “As a nation we seem to be becoming more conscious about our health and specifically our weight. In 2016 Aviva research found that 28% of men had a health ambition to lose weight in the next 12 months. This has now risen to 35% of male adults.

“Overall, our data suggests that people tend to make healthier choices rather than following strict plans in order to lose weight. However, there’s definitely an appetite for some of the more ‘fashionable’ weight-loss plans, particularly amongst younger people. As a general rule, a slow and steady approach to weight loss is sensible, and weight tends to stay off as people ‘train’ themselves into healthier eating habits. Everybody is different and people need to pick a regime that suits their lifestyle that then becomes their new behaviour – and will power to commit to the change goes a long way too!”



Research was carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Aviva in September 2017. A nationally representative sample of 2,235 UK adults (1,075 male, 1,160 female) were interviewed online about their health and wellbeing views and behaviours. 

*Some respondents may have used more than one method to lose weight.

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