According to new research, nine in 10 American adults have tried at least one weight loss strategy in their lifetime.
A poll of 2,000 adults revealed that 91% have tried at least one strategy for weight loss, with half revealing that they’ve tried 11 different methods of weight loss.
A quarter of Americans even confessed to trying at least 16 different weight loss strategies.
In fact, 32% of respondents who have been on a weight loss journey reported successfully losing weight but then gaining it back, with only 28% percent report successfully losing weight and keeping it off.
But going on a weight loss journey doesn’t appear to be sustainable for many, as respondents described their overall experience with weight loss as “overwhelming” (37%) and “unsuccessful” (31%) while only 15% described their weight loss experience as “rewarding.”
Almost two-thirds (65%) agree that it is difficult to think about weight loss long-term because of the sacrifices that come with it.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of evidence-based weight care platform, Found, the survey revealed that most respondents felt that losing weight (34%) required more sacrifice than having kids (33%), cutting back on finances (30%) and even starting a new job (28%).
Reflecting on their own weight loss experiences, respondents felt they had to sacrifice their happiness (31%), mental well-being (29%) and love or relationships (28%) in order to lose weight.
More than half (54%) have even given up on losing weight because they felt they were sacrificing too much.
But those surveyed had goals that went beyond the numbers on the scale. Of those who have gone on a weight loss journey, a plurality (44%) said the outcome they were most hoping for was feeling more confident with their bodies.
Other popular goals include wanting to feel healthier overall (42%) and wanting to be able to do an activity without stopping, such as walking a mile, climbing stairs or strolling through the mall (also 42%).
In fact, almost four in five (79%) want to be healthier, not skinnier.
Two in five (40%) wanted to have more energy and 34% felt victorious when others noticed their efforts.
“This data validates what many of us who have tried to lose weight before have known for a long time: that traditional weight loss journeys require too much sacrifice and leans too heavily on the idea of personal willpower,” said Dr. Acacia Parks, chief behavioral health officer at Found. “As someone who has struggled with my weight my whole life and also as an expert in psychology, I know that the feeling of extreme sacrifice doesn’t lead to lasting weight loss or positive mental health and only fuels stigma around needing help.
“To achieve sustainable weight loss, it is important to provide people with a personalized program that works with their unique biology and lifestyle, not against it.”
Beyond sacrifice, another key challenge with weight loss according to survey respondents is the stigma associated with the journey.
The data indicates that this stigma is decreasing compared to several years ago with 73% of respondents reporting that they are more comfortable discussing weight loss with their family and friends compared to five years ago.
Looking at health overall, 71% of respondents reported taking medication for physical or mental health conditions, or both.
In addition, the concern around discussing these medications openly has decreased, with more than half (59%) of all respondents feeling more comfortable talking about their medications than they were a few years ago.
Although people are more comfortable discussing their weight loss today compared with five years ago, there is still some stigma around discussing the medications they’re taking for their physical and mental health.
Results showed that 41% of respondents are very comfortable talking about their physical health medications, such as for diabetes and thyroid, compared with only 29% who feel the same with mental health medications, such as for anxiety or depression.
In terms of medications related to weight loss, 33% of respondents said they wished they had access to taking prescription weight loss medications to lose weight.
“It’s time we evolve the mainstream weight loss narratives that are outdated and tell us it’s our fault we aren’t losing weight,” said Dr. Rekha Kumar, chief medical officer at weight care platform, Found. “The science clearly shows that eating and exercise changes don’t address the biological components associated with weight, which is why medications can be extremely valuable in a weight loss journey.
“Clinical evidence proves that medication in combination with lifestyle changes can result in up to an additional 7-10% total weight loss. This survey validates that people are struggling to find effective and long-term weight loss solutions, with 37% looking for both a supportive community and access to a program that feels sustainable.”