A staggering 13.2 million people will go on a diet at some point this month, according to a new survey.
More than half of those dieters want to lose at least a stone. But one in five does not think they will be able to stick to the health regime and will relapse into unhealthy eating within five days.
Eighty per cent of those polled admitted they had previously given up healthy eating and exercise regimes without reaching their goals, and half quit within a month.
Three-quarters preferred to diet discretely, telling only close family and friends, while 16 per cent tried to lose weight by skipping meals.
Over-indulging at Christmas is by far the most common reason for starting a health kick in January and many dieters have a special event such as a holiday coming up that they want to slim down for.
But one in 10 say they have been trying to lose weight their entire adult lives.
The main reason for a diet failing is lack of time and money, and they say chocolate bars are the snacks they find hardest to resist.
One slimmer who has managed to drop the pounds through lasting changes to her diet and exercise is Claire Bland, 39, of Wellingborough.
She said: “I have been on a health kick now for eight months and I managed not too put on any weight over Christmas, to my surprise.
“I have about a stone to lose to get to my ideal goal weight and I am determined to do it and even more determined to keep it off this time, as on previous occasions when I have dieted I have always put the majority of the weight back on.
“I have just cut out all the junk and stuck to a calorie-controlled diet and by also watching how much fat content and salt content was in my food.
“Eat three healthy meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and if you are going to snack try to stick to something really healthy like fruit or carrot sticks or even try chewing on chewing gum as this takes away the need to want to eat.”
So what is the secret of success when it comes to slimming?
Dr Jacquie Lavin, head of nutrition and research for Slimming World, which runs several slimming groups in Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough and Rushden, says learning the reasons why you over-eat is crucial to changing your habits.
She said: “Studies of behaviour change show that helping people to lose weight is not just about giving them information and lecturing them on what they should and shouldn’t eat. It’s about encouraging and empowering people to want to make the change for themselves.
“When it comes to weight management, it’s as much about tackling deep-seated emotional and psychological issues as it is about providing practical help around diet and activity.
“The right support will recognise the importance of tackling those feelings of low self-esteem, guilt and failure, helping people to understand why they are struggling, building confidence in and rewarding their ability to make changes and giving them realistic practical tools so that once they lose weight, they can keep it off for life.”