8 in 10 Victorian dieters choose recipe for disaster: survey reveals


More than 80% of Victorian dieters are choosing fad diets that can involve cutting out fat, fasting for two days a week and eating like cavemen.

A LiveLighter survey of Victorians aged 25-49 found that 40% were on a diet or have been in the past.

Of the current dieters, 80.7% were setting themselves up for failure by going on a fad diet.

For current dieters, the top five diets were:

  1. Clean eating – a diet which focuses on consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible, and eating five to six times a day.
  2. Low-fat – dieters restrict the amount of fat they consume in order to lose weight.
  3. No-sugar – a diet which cuts out all added sugar including fruit initially to break their sugar addiction.
  4. 5:2 – two days a week dieters restrict their calorie intake to 500 calories (2100kJ) for women and 600 calories (2500kJ) for men and eat normally the other five days
  5. Paleo – dieters eat foods that mimic the food groups of pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors, including more meat, more fat and less carbohydrates.

What is a fad diet? Fad diets are defined as having some or all of the following characteristics: promise a quick fix, promote 'magic' foods or combinations of foods, imply that food can change body chemistry , exclude or severely restrict food groups or nutrients (such as carbohydrates or fat), have rigid rules that focus on weight loss and/or make claims based on a single study or testimonials only.

The LiveLighter survey also found that many Victorians are constantly dieting – 55% of those who were currently on a diet or who had been on a diet in the past, said they were ‘always’ or ‘often’ on a diet. Almost two in three of those who had been on a diet in the past lasted less than three months.

Heart Foundation Victoria’s Director of Cardiovascular Health Programs Kellie-Ann Jolly said it was alarming to see so many Victorians going for crash diets instead of healthy long-term options.

“It’s encouraging to see so many Victorians trying to achieve a healthy weight, but the majority are putting their health goals in jeopardy with popular fad diets,” Ms Jolly said.

Quick-fix diets you see in magazines and on the internet might look like the perfect solution, but in reality they’re a recipe for disaster. Most of them cut out entire food groups so they’re hard to stick to. Once you stop you fall back into your old eating habits and are at risk of regaining weight, without having learnt how to eat a healthy balanced diet.

“Fad diets are also largely centred on food and tend to ignore exercise, which as we all know is very important for a healthy lifestyle.”

With around 63% of Australian adults now overweight or obese, LiveLighter is a public health education campaign which encourages Victorians to lead healthier lives by changing what they eat and drink, and being more active.

Overweight and obesity is now one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease in our community. Carrying extra weight dramatically increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

LiveLighter Campaign Manager and Dietitian Alison Ginn said the most effective way to achieve a healthy weight is to focus on nutrition and set long-term realistic goals.

“When it comes to long-lasting, healthy weight loss, slow and steady really does win the race. Small, easy changes such as eating smaller portions and including more vegetables and fruit in your diet really do add up to make a big difference to your health,” Ms Ginn said.

“The LiveLighter website has plenty of resources and practical tips to help achieve a healthy weight including watch your portion size, go for two and five fruit and veg, sit less, be active every day and cut back on sugar. Another important factor is support - if you’re trying to lose weight, try to build a healthy and supportive network around you and arm yourself with the tools and knowledge you need to succeed.”

Delivered by the Cancer Council Victoria, in partnership with the Heart Foundation, LiveLighter is funded by the State Government and is viewed as a critical element of Healthy Together Victoria.

Editor’s note: LiveLighter asked 1,000 Victorians aged 25-49 about their dieting and weight loss behaviour in a survey in April 2015.


Media Contacts:

Shannon Crane on 0432 157 270 or shannon.crane@cancervic.org.au
Rebecca Cook on 0438 316 435 or rebecca.cook@cancervic.org.au