One of the ideas that has been popping around my head lately is the idea of relapse rates in dieting. We have all heard that a high percentage of people who go on diets end up failing – especially in the long term. Hell if this wasn’t the case why would we be blogging right here right now. But why does this happen?
People who have never dieted tend to believe it is a lack of willpower. To a certain degree I guess they are right. But perhaps the high failure rate is not because of willpower but more because its an addiction. So I thought why not do a little bit of background work and look at the statistics for relapse rates for different addictions. Below is a list of relapse rates ranked from highest to lowest with the number representing the percentage of people who try to give up that addiction and then fail. I consider a diet an attempt to break food addiction.
Smoking – 90%
Heroin – 82%
Im not trying to start a war of ‘my addiction is worse than yours’ here. There are obviously a lot of factors at play here. But what I want to highlight is the fact that relapse rates are similar for all addictions including dieting. I don’t think this is a coincidence! Is it that surprising that so many dieters fail when you look at it in the light of addiction?