Why I won't be dieting in 2024

1st December 2023 | Author: Bianca Skilbeck


It’s almost that time of year. 


In a couple of weeks, Christmas (for those of us who celebrate) will be said and done, and we’ll be turning the page into 2024.

The new year offers us a chance to reflect on the year that has been and start thinking about how we’d like the next to look. And we all know what often accompanies the new year, right? New Year’s Resolutions.

Yet, we all know that new year’s resolutions don’t stick. Don’t we? It’s 2023; do people really still make new years resolutions?

Well, I’m not sure. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. What I suspect is that they are no longer called New Years Resolutions. Rather, the language of new years resolutions has faded and been replaced by a more subtle language of optimism, or what I might call, “magical thinking”.

I say this because scrolling social media, I continue to see (and of course block), one too many posts or ads promising how you can discover the ‘new you’, via, of course, “the new way to lose weight (or shrink belly fat, or tone your tummy, etc. etc.) that REALLY works”.

Or, the even more subtle and insidious, do this because “it’s a lifestyle change”, or “it’s WELLNESS”.

Ugh, okay. Sigh. This is still a thing.

Given the ubiquity of weight loss (or lifestyle, or wellness!) campaigns that tend to come up at this time of year, I thought that some of the following might need a refresher, so here goes. Some of the actual facts about dieting, weight, health, and the inextricably related; eating disorders.





  • Whilst it’s often automatically assumed that those of us who live in larger bodies must be ‘unhealthy’, this is simply not true. Despite the reductionist narrative that pervades popular culture (and unfortunately, many parts of medicine, but perhaps that’s another article), this is just that; reductionist. There is simply not a valid equation that states weight = health. There are many folks in larger bodies who are unhealthy, just as there are many folks in smaller bodies who are unhealthy. And of course, in contrast, there are many folks in larger bodies who are healthy and many in smaller bodies who are healthy. It’s nuance, yeah?
  • Further to this, and to emphasise this point; we truly cannot automatically know anything about a person’s health just by looking at them.
  • The truth is that we were all made to be different weights, shapes, and sizes and there are countless factors that influence a person’s set-point weight, including but not limited to genetics, physical and mental health history, socioeconomic factors such as finances, employment opportunities and education opportunities, previous dieting history, etc.
  • Zooming out, let’s remember that the highly coveted concept of ‘health’ is actually NOT the moral obligation that we are led to believe it is. Rather, it should be considered a resource. One person’s definition of health compared with another’s can be wildly different depending on individual circumstances. There is no one size fits all approach to health, and I’d suggest being very wary of anyone who suggests that there is.
  • The BMI is a metric that was never intended to be used to measure individual people’s weight or health, much less create social and moral hierarchies. It was simply not created for that, given the diversity in the make-up of human physicality.
  • Even if the BMI was a reliable indicator of health, research suggests that those who fall into the ‘overweight’ category actually show better ‘survival rates’ than those in the ‘healthy’ category. YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT (and if you don’t believe me, see below the list of references). So why are we led to believe otherwise?
  • Research consistently shows that whilst intentional weight loss in the short term is possible, the majority of people (anywhere from 85–97%) will regain the weight within 5 years. Usually less. Roughly one-third of people will regain the weight, plus more.
  • Helpfully, research has also shown that taking the focus and goal away from weight loss, in favour of instead focusing on developing and maintaining health-promoting behaviours is likely to result in better long-term health outcomes.




  • It is well known that dieting is one of the biggest risk factors for the development of an eating disorder. Research shows that disordered eating patterns including binge eating, restricting, and weight cycling (yo-yo-ing weight) often have a huge negative impact on the quality of a person’s life, as well as their physical and mental health outcomes.
  • A recent statement from Australia’s national eating disorder advocacy body, the Butterfly Foundation, indicated that eating disorder diagnoses have doubled since the year 2000.
  • According to a survey of pre-adolescent children in Sydney, Australia, roughly 50% of primary school children expressed a desire to lose weight.
  • Amongst 14–15-year-old girls, a study from the Australian Institute of Family Studies showed that more than half were afraid of gaining weight and 43 percent had undertaken some type of action in the past month to try to control their weight.
  • From adolescence into adulthood, research shows that dieting to control or lose weight is not only ineffective, but it may also actually promote weight gain in the long term.
  • Whilst there are many factors that contribute to the development of an eating disorder, the best-known environmental contributor is the sociocultural idealisation of thinness.
  • You may read this and think that statistics about eating disorders in teens are not relevant to you and your life. Yet, I ask you to consider this again. We are ALL a part of the sociocultural environment that young people exist in. If you’re not a positive influence, then what kind of influence are you?
  • Everything written here has been backed by a huge body of eating disorder & body image research, as well as backed by eating disorder therapists, dieticians, doctors, other health professionals, and leading eating disorder organisations such as The Butterfly Foundation, Eating Disorders Victoria, Australia & New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZAED), and National Eating Disorders Australia (NEDA).


If you want to know more, or if you have decided that 2024 is the year for a different approach, reach out to me to learn more about options for individual therapy


 Book an appointment today





Bacon, L., & Aphramor, L. (2014). Body respect: What conventional health books get wrong, leave out, and just plain fail to understand about weight. Dallas, TX, US: BenBella Books.

Culbert, K. M., Racine, S. E., & Klump, K. L. (2015). Research Review: What we have learned about the causes of eating disorders - a synthesis of sociocultural, psychological, and biological research. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 56(11), 1141-1164.

Matheson, E. M., King, D. E., & Everett, C. J. (2012). Healthy Lifestyle Habits and Mortality in Overweight and Obese Individuals. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 25, 9–15.

Nordmo, M., Y. S. Danielsen, and M. Nordmo (2019) "The challenge of keeping it off, a descriptive systematic review of high-quality, follow-up studies of obesity treatments." Obesity reviews: an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity








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