engaging your brain
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Research led by Neurovalens shows that 70% of Brits will eventually put on more weight than they lose this January, and the company is calling for the nation to steer clear of diets this January and start – engaging your brain

No such thing as a ‘happy January diet?’

New research has shown almost three-quarters of the country (72% of) are not happy with their weight after Christmas indulgence and more than a quarter of the country (26%) is on a diet in January.

The research, by leading British health-tech company, Neurovalens, also shows that:

  • 70% can put on more weight than they lose
  • 40% of Brits would like to lose between half a stone and two stones this January
  • Brits try on average more than 10 diets in a lifetime, without one that works for them
  • 28% do not lose weight at all when they diet in the New Year

Dr. Becky Spelman, leading Harley Street psychologist, says: “We dread dieting, especially in January it affects our mood and our relationships with partners and colleagues, and it often fails. So why do so many of us keep doing something so tragic each year?

“Our self-esteem can be so tied up in the idea of starting a diet in the New Year and sticking to it that repeatedly failing can have an absolutely devastating impact on our emotional well-being and mental health. People end up asking themselves why they should expect themselves to achieve anything at all if they can’t manage to lose weight and keep the weight off.

“We often adopt the psychology of ‘this time of year it will be different’ when trying the latest ‘fad’ diet. But when we fail and see all the lost weight go back on we just feel even more miserable than we were in the first place. Then, because we are miserable, we are more likely to be tempted to comfort-eat and to gain even more weight than before, creating the ultimate vicious circle.

“We live in a society in which high-calorie snacks are available in every corner shop, while most jobs are sedentary, and comfort food is available whenever we are feeling low. Over time dieting can actually contribute to weight gain escalating and self-esteem dropping incrementally.”

Dr Jason McKeown, CEO of Neurovalens and one of Britain’s leading neuroscientists says: “Put simply, calorie-reduction diets will fail for almost all people, almost all of the time because our brains are designed to resist. It’s a proven fact. Neuroscience tells us very clearly that, when it comes to weight-loss, our brains are the decision-makers and they are hard-wired to fight back when we lose weight.

“This is because when we eat less the brain realises and senses a problem, so it essentially increases your appetite in response – it wants you to eat the ‘right’ amount. The brain sets you to ‘crave mode’ as it tries to get you back on to what it thinks is the right path as quickly as possible. This is why people feel hungrier when they diet and see the weight go back on very quickly when the diet has ended.”

Almost 6 in 10 people (58%) think more about food when they’re on a diet, whilst as few as 1 in 10 people (9%) find that their appetite decreases when they diet. This, in turn, leaves us hungry, less able to concentrate, snappy and therefore likely to give up.

Dr McKeown continues: “The only way around this seemingly Catch-22 situation is to activate the areas of the brain monitoring appetite, cravings and how full you feel. When this is done, losing-weight is totally transformed and becomes something which people find a lot easier to do.”

When it comes to the difference between men, women and diets, the gender divide is clear – females are far less happy with their weight…

  • when asked if they were happy with their weight, 50% more men responded positively than women (33% men versus 23% of women)
  • while almost 1 in 10 women (9%) have been on more than 20 diets, just one in 40 men have done the same amount
  • women are 50% more likely to say they dread going on a diet
  • and, while an impressive 17% of women say they’ve never broken a diet, twice as many men (33%) say they’ve never broken one

Dr Spelman continues: “The cycle of dieting has always seemed inevitable for both men and women – feel unhappy with your weight, try to lose weight, lose some, return to original calorie intake, put weight back on again. Technology can now completely short-circuit this path, it’s amazing and has the potential not just to help people to lose weight, but also to help them maintain healthy levels of self-esteem, with profound repercussions for their emotional and mental well-being, too.”

Julie Tarbox, from Essex says: “I’ve tried so many diets over the years but have never been able to stick to them for long enough to have an impact. I’ve always thought that if I could just have something turned off in my brain to stop me craving junk food and carbs then I’m sure I’d be more successful.”


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