10 Shocking Diet Statistics

by | Intuitive Eating

We at Courage to Nourish have collected a list of statistics about dieting in order to highlight the dangers, and also fallibility, of dieting and restriction. Read on to learn 10 shocking diet statistics.

1. 95% of diets DON’T work

If a doctor prescribed you a medicine and told you it was only 5% effective, would you take it? Probably not. That is basically what doctors or other health care professionals are doing when they suggest you go on a diet or lose weight to treat any diagnosis. Diets are not designed to be sustainable. If you do lose weight and are not able to keep it off, you did not fail. The diet and diet culture failed you.

2. Most people regain the weight they lost, if not more, within 5 years

A lot of people with ties to the diet industry will try to cite studies that show weight loss as effective “long term”. What these studies are leaving out is the definition of long term. Most studies do not follow up on participants for more than 2 years after the initial weight loss.

3. Estimated 45 million people go on a diet each year

If you are one of these people, it is okay. Dieting is so normalized in our society today. Is dieting not giving you what you hoped for? Are you tired of dieting and ready to heal your relationship with food? Reach out to our team of dietitians, we are here to help.

4. The diet industry makes 60+ billion dollars every year

The diet industry is a multi billion dollar industry. They do not care about you, they care about making money. As mentioned above, diets are designed to not be sustainable. How else would the diet industry profit?

5. People who go on diets are 8 times more likely to develop an eating disorder

Dieting is so normalized in our society, and so are eating disorders. You can thank diet culture for that. Just because it’s normalized, doesn’t mean it’s right. If a diet feels like your only option, or is recommended to you by a healthcare provider, I’m here to tell you that there are other options! Our team of dietitians at Courage to Nourish can help you find alternatives to dieting.

6. The most common symptoms related to dieting include low energy, sleep issues, increase in feelings of depression, GI issues, and low self-esteem

Your body needs a certain amount of energy to carry out basic day to day functions. When you are not getting enough, it can have negative implications including, but not limited to the ones listed above. Dieting can lead to disordered eating, and the development of an eating disorder.

7. 35% of dieting becomes obsessive, with 20 to 25% of those diets turning into eating disorders

Dieting is a predictor of an eating disorder and it is a slippery slope. Not everyone who goes on a diet will develop an eating disorder, but as you can see, there are quite a large number of people that do. Dieting is common, but that does not mean that it’s harmless.

8. 28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime

This equals about 9% of the US population. Eating disorders can feel very isolating. In fact, they thrive in isolation and secrecy. If you are experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder or have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, you are not alone.

9. Eating disorders result in 10,200 deaths each year- that’s one death every 52 minutes

Eating disorders are one of the deadliest mental illnesses, only behind opioid overdose. They affect a person’s physical and mental health and are not to be taken lightly. Recovery is possible and treatment is worth it. 

10. 46% of 9-11-year-olds are sometimes, or very often, on diets

If this statistic alarms you, it should. Diet culture affects everyone, even kids as young as 9. Children who are dieting are at a higher risk for developing an eating disorder. Do not focus on your child’s appearance, or make judgements about the food they are eating. Instead, make sure they have consistent access to enough food and a variety of foods. If you notice your child is already struggling with their relationship with food, let us help!

Talk to an Experienced Dietitian

Do you feel like you’re stuck in the never-ending cycle of dieting? If the idea of intuitive eating sounds good to you, but you don’t know where to start? That’s ok! You are not alone. Giving up dieting is hard, especially if it’s been your norm for so long or you were indoctrinated by diet messaging growing up. Hold some compassion for yourself and recognize it takes time to form new thoughts and habits. We recommend working with a non-diet dietitian who can help teach and support you as you navigate your relationship with your body and food.

Contact Us

Courage to Nourish is a group of eating disorder specialized dietitians. We have in person locations in Alexandria, Virginia, Columbia, Maryland. and College Park, Maryland. We offer virtual services across the state of Virginia, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. We offer individual nutrition therapy. As well as support groups. We would love to guide you in building a better relationship with food.

Contact us for more information. And to schedule a discovery call. Also, sign up for our client or clinician newsletter!

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kathryn karukas

Kathyrn Karukas, MS, RD, LD

Kathryn is a weight-inclusive, anti-diet eating disorder dietitian at Courage to Nourish. She specializes in working with adolescents and families, athletes, and individuals recovering from ARFID. Kathryn sees clients in person at the Columbia, Maryland office and virtually throughout Virginia, Pennsylvania, DC, and Maryland. To schedule a discovery call with Kathryn, click here.

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