The Decline of Dieting?A couple of weeks ago, a survey came out suggesting that fewer folks than ever are on diets. A market research group asked 5,000 people about their eating habits, and found 26% of US women and 16% of men were dieting--the lowest it's been in more than two decades. By contrast, in 1990 39% of women and 29% of men were dieting.
As a nation, we're certainly no slimmer now than in 1990. So is this decrease in dieting a good thing, or a bad thing?
Reading two articles about this, one in the New York Times and one in the Boston Globe, I found myself with, as usual, mixed feelings.
"Positive" EatingThe New York Times (which may require registration) takes an upbeat approach. Their article focuses on the movement towards "positive eating." What's positive eating? It's "shunning deprivation diets and instead focusing on adding seasonal vegetables, nuts, berries and other healthful foods to their plates."
Hooray for this approach!
They cite sensible healthy trends like the slow foods movement, eating locally grown produce, choosing whole foods instead of the processed stuff, shopping at farmers' markets and spending more time in the kitchen cooking things from scratch.
These all seem like really cool things to do. And it sure seems like in the health/fitness/weight-loss/body image blogosphere, you see a lot more focus on health and nutrition, and a lot less on dieting.
(Check out, for example, Limes and Lycopene, among many others. Hell, just click on any blog in our blogroll, and you'll probably find lots of information on healthy eating and a move away from processed crap and toward nutritious whole foods.)
I'd say the "positive eating" approach is the one I take 90% of the time... when I'm not too busy cramming cupcakes in my mouth.
(It also seems like lots of exercise is part of the equation--a topic that seemed weirdly de-emphasized in both these articles).
Anyway, from the "positive eating" perspective, the decline in "dieting" seems like a great thing.
On the other hand...
Are People Really Just Saying Screw It, I Give Up?I love this "eat healthy" stuff, and it's awesome news if it's getting to be more popular than dieting. But if I step outside of the world of health bloggers and the New York Times, and instead visit random food courts or chain restaurants or supermarkets... um, well, really?
People aren't dieting because they're eating so much healthy food now?
Maybe I've just shown up on the wrong days, at the wrong times. But seems to me there are still lot of people out there eating a LOT of crap.
The Boston Globe article, however, mentions a few other factors that might have something to do with folks giving up on diets. Like:
Experts noting that "dieting is simply too hard" and that diets are "notoriously ineffective." Or that "a lot of people are saying I don't have enough money to spend on a diet, or I'm going to try surgery."
Or that there simply isn't an "exciting new diet" like South Beach out there now. According to the editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly, "one of the real challenges for the diet book industry is - surprise - coming up with new diets."
Hmm. This is not quite as upbeat.
Is There a Place for Dieting?It sure seems like there are a number of folks out there in blogland who were overweight and not happy about it, who then changed their lives for the better by dieting and getting serious about exercise. I find these success stories really compelling-- folks like Pasta Queen and Diet Girl and Roni and Mousearoo.
So I don't know what to think about the fact that there are fewer people attempting to do what they've done.
Is that a good thing? A bad thing? What do you guys think? Are any of you on "diets?" Or is the word getting so stigmatized no one wants to use it anymore?