New Year's resolutions and diets: survey results

Slow and steady wins the race: according to our survey, only a fifth of new year’s resolutions last the distance

A new survey conducted by Mumsnet and nutritional app Ways of Eating reveals that only one in five of those surveyed stuck to their new year's resolutions for a year or more, while a fifth gave up on them within a week.

Of those who made resolutions, 85% found that 'big bang' ones such as cutting out all sugar and carbs, or giving up alcohol completely, didn't work for them. Instead, they found resolutions that focused on smaller steps - such as adding an extra portion of veg each day or cutting out alcohol one night of the week - more sustainable: more than two-thirds of those who tried the more gradual approach reported it worked better for them.

The survey found that the most popular resolutions for 2016 will focus on nutrition and fitness - only one of the top five resolutions (that of spending less and/or saving more) was not related to health. 

See the full survey results below.


Do you think you’ll be making a New Year’s resolution this year?

Answer options Response percent

Yes, definitely

19%
Yes, probably
34%
No 43%
Don't know5%

 


If 'yes', which of the following categories will your resolution fall into?  Please tick all that apply Base: all making a new year resolution

Answer options Response percent
More exercise/physical activity
 59%
Weight-loss48%
General healthy eating47%
Financial matters (eg spending less or saving more)
31%
Your own behaviour/state of mind/mental wellbeing29%
Making time for yourself/for a specific activity21%
Cutting out sugar or other foods/food groups20%
Spending less time on devices17%
Reading more15%
Relationships14%
Parenting behaviour
14%
Giving up/cutting down on alcohol
12%
Giving up/cutting down on smoking/nicotine
8%
Other health-related resolutions
6%
Weight-gain
1%
Other
8%

Don’t know

1%

 

Thinking about the last New Year’s resolution you made for this year: which of the following categories did they fall into?  Please tick all that apply - Base: all answering (who made a resolution this year)

Answer options Response percent
More exercise/physical activity
48%
Weight-loss 41%
General healthy eating33%
Financial matters (eg spending less or saving more)
18%
Your own behaviour/state of mind/mental wellbeing
15%
Making time for yourself/for a specific activity
12%
Cutting out sugar or other foods/food groups
10%
Spending less time on devices
9%
Reading more
8%
Relationships
7%
Parenting behaviour
7%
Giving up/cutting down on alcohol
6%
Giving up/cutting down on smoking/nicotine
6%
Other health-related resolutions
4%
Weight-gain
1%
Other
6%


And, thinking about the last New Year’s resolution you made (whenever that was): did you stick to it - and if so, for how long? Base: all who have ever made a New Year’s resolution 

Answer options Response percent
I hardly stuck to it at all (1 day - 1 week) 19%
I stuck to it for about a month19%
I stuck to it for a few months, but then let it slide32%
I stuck to it for a year or more19%
Other
5%

Don't know

7%

 

When it comes to making resolutions, which of the following would you say is closest to your style? Base: all answering

Answer options Response percent

I go for the ‘big bang’ approach - eg, promising myself I'm going to cut out all sugar and carbs entirely, or resolving to run a marathon

32%

I go for an incremental, small-steps approach - eg promising myself I'm going to eat one extra portion of veg each day, or not have alcohol on a particular night of the week

49%
Neither
18%

 

Do you think particular kinds of resolutions work better than others? Please let us know whether you think the following resolutions or approaches usually work for you, especially in the long term. Base: all answering for each one (for whom each one applies)

Answer options Usually works for me Usually doesn't work for me
Health-related resolutions 47%
53%
Personal behaviour/relationships resolutions 43%
57%
Weight-related resolutions 35%
65%
Family-related/parenting resolutions 47%
53%
'Big bang' resolutions 15%
85%
'Small changes' resolutions 69%
31%

 

Do you think the act of making a resolution helps you to change your behaviour in the long term?

Answer options Response percent
Yes 28%
No
53%
Don't know
19%



Over the past five years, how many times (if at all) have you been on a diet?

Answer options Response percent
Zero/ not been on a diet 34%
One 
11%
Two  15%
Three10%
Four3%
Five 6%
Six1%
Seven1%
Eight1%
Nine0%
Ten or more5%
Constantly been on a diet!12%
Not stated0%


Have you tried a diet at any time in the past three years? If so, would you say it worked or not?

Answer options Response percent
Yes have been on diet in last 3 years and it worked
 41%
Yes have been on diet in last 3 years but it didn't work
 21%
Not been on diet in the last 3 years
 37%
Not stated
1%


If you have been on a diet but it didn't work, what do you think was the main reason?

Answer options Response percent
It was far too difficult to stick to
 43%
The support I had whilst I was on the diet was not good enough9%

I gave up on the diet because I don’t think it was healthy for me e.g. completely cutting out certain types of food, overeating on certain types of other food…

14%
Other
32%


To what extent, if at all, do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Answer options Strongly agreeSlightly agreeSlightly disagreeStrongly disagreeDon't know
Diets are often misleading in their claims/promises
 49%36%7%1%6%
Many diets are designed in such a way that it is extremely difficult to stick them
 44%36%10%2%7%


Over the past five years, how much money - if any - do you think you have ‘wasted’ on diets that did not work? This includes fees paid, memberships, specific slimming foods where you have not achieved the goal of the diet

Answer options Response percent
Nothing, but have been on a diet
 38%
Between £1 and £100
11%
Between £101 and £250
 7%
Between £251 and £500
4%
Between £501 and £1,000
3%
Between £1,001 and £1,500
1%
Between £1501 and £2,000
1%
Over £2,000
0%
Don’t know
4%

I don't do diets

30%

Survey of 1087 Mumsnet users. Conducted in December 2015.

 


Make 2016 your year


Healthy resolutions


Diet and fitness

Last updated: over 1 year ago