Yes, Losing Weight Would Be Sweet, But Chocolate Is So Much Sweeter

Ah, mid-January. The ponds are frozen, the days are short, and people in droves are abandoning the weight-loss regimens they’d resolved to adopt for the new year. Actually, some fresh polling data suggest the last part of this traditional trio is now muted as more folks simplify matters by not making such vows in the first place.

The hope of losing weight (or, at least, not gaining any) surely persists. In Yankelovich polling, 63 percent of adults said they’re concerned about “maintaining a healthy weight.” But significantly fewer—45 percent—claimed to be doing something about it. An ABC News/AOL poll found a similar pattern. Forty-five percent of adults said they want to shed pounds. Among this cohort, though, just 30 percent are “seriously trying” to make it happen. There was an intriguing gender gap (plus a non-gap) in the responses. Women were more likely than men (55 percent vs. 36 percent) to say they want to lose weight Among people voicing this wish, though, men were as likely as women (31 percent vs. 30 percent) to say they’re seriously trying to make it come true.

Perhaps Americans with excess pounds will try harder to get rid of them as the year goes on. A report from The NPD Group points out that January is not the “peak dieting month,” despite all those New Year’s resolutions. In fact, March is the month in which the highest proportion of Americans diet (with 26 percent doing so, vs. 23 percent in January) as coats come off and beach weather beckons. What sort of weight-loss diets do people follow? The NPD Group’s study found 30 percent of dieters adopting a regimen they’d concocted themselves, vs. 12 percent using one prescribed by a doctor. Of the brand-name diets, Weight Watchers had the most adherents (11 percent), slightly surpassing the sum of dieters using the South Beach (5 percent) and Atkins (4.5 percent) regimens.

Weight loss would be easier if it weren’t for all the tempting food that now surrounds us. (Even fast food is clearly tastier and more varied than it was a generation ago.) Naturally, people find some foods harder to forgo than others. When the ABC News/AOL survey asked respondents to identify their favorite food indulgence—”that is, something that you know is fattening but you crave anyway”—chocolate got the most mentions (20 percent), trailed by ice cream (15 percent), red meat (9 percent), cake/pie (8 percent), pizza (8 percent), cookies (5 percent) and pasta (5 percent), with the rest of the responses widely scattered. Women are especially keen on chocolate, with 27 percent of them (vs. 12 percent of men) identifying it as their chief dietary craving.