It might just be the month of failed health kicks and workout plans.
But January is still the best time to go on a diet, research suggests.
Dieters who try to lose weight at the beginning of the year see the most weight loss, a study found.
Those who start dieting in January lose an average of 2.54 kg, compared to 1.61 kg in the summer.
Experts believe that the motivated “fresh start” mentality may underlie the success of New Year’s diets.
On the other hand, they admit that summer vacation can make it hard to stick to healthy habits.
For those trying to lose weight at the beginning of the year, they see the most weight loss compared to other times of the year. Those who start dieting in January lose an average of 2.5 kg, compared to only 1.6 kg in the summer
Experts believe the motivated ‘fresh start’ mentality may be behind the success of New Year’s diets
Researchers at the University of Oxford, led by dietitian Dr Dimitrios Koutoukidis, noted that weight loss is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions.
But with masses of people confessing to dropping their planned health kick, it’s unclear whether attempting to lose weight at the start of the year is more successful than other points on the calendar, the researchers said.
To get to the bottom of this, they followed 85,514 people in England, aged 65 on average, who started the NHS Diabetes Prevention Program between January 2017 and December 2018.
Participants had high blood sugar but had not yet developed diabetes.
They attended face-to-face or online sessions where they were encouraged to eat healthier, exercise more and lose weight.
The results, published in the journal obesityshow that the group lost an average of 2 kg (4.4 lbs) over six months, representing 2.3 percent of their body weight.
However, those who started dieting in January lost more weight than those who started a new health regimen at any other time of the year.
Overall, those who started dieting in January lost 12 to 30 percent more weight than those who started at other times of the year, the team concluded.
August was the least successful month, followed by July (1.65 kg), September (1.79 kg) and December (1.83 kg).
The researchers noted that their findings are observational, but they caused people to weigh more in the winter months and less in the summer months.
But they suggested that people dieting in January could be most successful because of “fresh start” New Year’s resolutions, widespread weight-loss efforts, and the heavy marketing of weight-loss programs.
These factors can boost motivation, leading to more commitment to diet plans and more weight loss.
Meanwhile, August dieters may struggle the most because it’s “typically a holiday month in England,” so the lack of a routine can make it harder to tip the scales.
Dr Koutoukidis told The TelegraphOur best hypothesis is that people are more motivated to lose weight in January because it is generally seen as a “fresh start” and because people make New Year’s resolutions.
“And so they attend the group sessions more (ie they are more involved in the program) and lose more weight as a result.”
However, the British Dietitian Association has previously warned that the “new year, new you” mentality can promote crash diets and harm mental health.
It urges people to think about what they should be eating more of ? such as fiber ? rather than focusing on restricting their diet.
What should a balanced diet look like?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS
- Eat at least 5 servings of different fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count;
- Basic meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole grains;
- 30 grams of fiber per day: This is equivalent to eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat granola biscuits, 2 thick slices of whole-wheat bread, and large baked potato with skin;
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) and choose lower-fat, lower-sugar options;
- Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish per week, one of which is fatty);
- Opt for unsaturated oils and spreads and consume in small quantities;
- Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water per day;
- Adults should consume less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day.
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide