no caramel cheesecake, youíre not likely to eat any. But
plop one down on a table among a group of friends and the
forks come out. Thatís a simple scene that embodies some of
the complex mechanisms that make it so hard for people to lose
weight and keep it off.
in England who were trying to sort out what tempts dieters and
what makes them give into temptation looked at a group of 80
people, mostly women, over seven days, giving them phones and
apps to record instances of temptation: how they felt, what
was happening and whether they took a bite or a sip.
week, they recorded 898 instances of temptation.
dieter knows, keeping weight off for good is extremely
difficult. And some of the factors the researchers reported
last week were no surprise: Being around friends, late-night
cravings and alcohol have a major effect. Other factors, as
the makers of desserts and snacks surely know, include being
tired. Who hasnít stopped at the supermarket after a long
day and bought foods they might better have left on the shelf?
while some of those might seem obvious, the researchers are
looking at exactly whatís going on in an effort to develop
ways to empower people to resist temptation. Would it help,
for example, if you had a phone app to record your feelings
every time you happened upon a bowl of chips or an ad for ice
findings help piece together the complex jigsaw surrounding
the daily predictions of dietary temptations and help us to
better understand how dietary temptations and lapses
operate," the researchers wrote in the journal Annals of
participants were part of a weight-loss group or were dieting
on their own. For a week, they were asked to fill out a phone
diary each time they were tempted. The researchers said
previous studies of willpower had been done in lab conditions;
this one was done in "real" life.
participants gave into temptation a little more than half the
time, according to their diaries. They were particularly
vulnerable at night and more likely to have an alcoholic drink
than to eat a sugary snack.
dietitians have ranked lack of willpower as more important to
the development of obesity than genetics, the researchers
the fight against obesity, we need to help people become more
aware of the various personal, situational and environmental
factors that expose them to dietary temptations," the
researchers wrote. And then, they said, they need to develop
skills to cope.
thing that appeared to help the dieters was an ability to
focus on their long-term goals.
surprise, they reported they were more aware of their eating
because they were carrying around the phones. And one of the
limits of the work will surely ring true with dieters: The
study was just seven days long. What happened on the eighth