Press release: Wednesday 23rd September 2015 | WW UK


Brits spend more than a month every year talking and thinking about food


Wednesday 23rd September 2015

The average Brit will mull over their hunger, meal choices and eating habits for an average of two hours and 13 minutes every day – which equates to 34 days every year.

The poll, commissioned by Weight Watchers UK, revealed that avoiding comfort food, looking for a sugar hit and deciding whether something is healthy were top reasons Brits can’t stop chatting about food with family, friends and colleagues. In fact, four in ten adults even confessed they’ve tried to cut back on their food chat – with almost half the nation (45%) saying they often feel food-obsessed.

The biggest reason to want a snack was shown to be boredom (47 per cent) – while others (21%) confessed to needing a sugar hit, or just to cheer up when sad or stressed (33%). Social pressure to indulge at events such as a birthdays or weddings (18%) was also a reason for British minds to go into overdrive thinking about food, the poll showed.

And four in ten admitted their feelings over food needs tweaking – either by feeling less guilty when eating sugary snacks, or in contrast - avoiding seeing food as a comfort.

Zoe Griffiths, Head of Public Health for Weight Watchers, said: ‘’It’s great that we give food and mealtimes such prominence in our lives. With food blogs, health trends and new restaurants galore, of course food is an exciting topic and chatting about it can give us new and ingenious ideas.”

‘’But when it comes to our thoughts over food, it’s important to be mindful. Why we’re thinking about a snack, for example, is a useful question to ask yourself, as it could be boredom that causes you to eat mindlessly or stress triggering you to comfort eat rather than a need. At Weight Watchers, we believe that healthy weight loss is about more than just what you eat.’’

The study of 2,000 was part of Weight Watchers’ ‘Brain Boost’ campaign, to help adults understand the mental barriers faced when starting or maintaining a healthy weight loss plan. As part of the campaign Weight Watchers have created an online quiz to identify your personal approach to food, after which you’ll be given some simple tips and tricks that you can do at home to help tackle the barriers you face.

It found that 76 per cent of adults think and chat about food regularly throughout the day. Common culinary topics were hunger levels, deciding what to eat next, snack cravings or admiring the food of a friend or colleague. The endless list of food-based chat means Brits spend two hours and 13 minutes per day talking and thinking about eating, the poll showed that Brits say ‘I’m hungry’ an average of four times a day.

The first thought for food comes in at 8.55am, while potential lunch options come at 10.33am. They’ll first wonder ‘is this good for me?’ when mulling over a snack at 11.21am – while the evening meal is first imagined at 1.03pm.

Weight Watchers has partnered with neuroscientist, Dr. Jack Lewis, to look at what triggers our brain to stray from the healthy eating path and offer ways to help maintain a mindful and healthy approach to food and drink in the colder months.

Commenting on the research findings, Dr Jack said:

“I’m not surprised that these results have come to light; food has been one of life’s central pleasures across the world and through the ages. However, our busy and chaotic modern lives leave us overloaded with information and emotionally overwhelmed, causing our brains to lose discipline over simple decisions relating to what we eat.”

“By training our brains in advance of starting a healthy eating plan we can improve our cognitive flexibility and working memory which can help our brains cope better with the day-to-day bombardment, leaving us much better equipped to strategically choose the right meals rather than just relying on instinct.”

“Weight Watchers has gone even further in helping people be more mindful by showing them how their brain influences their behaviour – ultimately giving them steps on how to stick to a healthy eating plan. The launch of Brain Boost comes at no better time as we head into Autumn, giving us plenty of time to re-evaluate our relationship with food just as the days are getting shorter and the urge to comfort eat is increasing.”

The results show that food really is love, for 59 per cent of the adults surveyed who said they talk about food, snacking and eating more frequently than anything else. In fact, over six in ten confessed there are specific people who encourage food conversation, with work colleagues proving the most snack-chatty for one in four.

While being health conscious was deemed a prime reason for Brits to ponder their food, 53 per cent blamed the influx of so-called ‘food porn’ available through adverts and social media. In fact over half (52 per cent) claimed that the abundance of food imagery they’re exposed to day-to-day causes them to make bad choices.

But it seems many take advantage of this deluge of info - four in ten said they go online for recipes and to look at pictures of food. While others look at food blogs, post photos of their meals to Instagram and regularly keep a food diary of what they’ve eaten, and plan to eat.

A determined 37 per cent admitted they make a conscious effort to think about something else, with 33 per cent calling themselves ‘food-obsessed’.


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Notes to editors:

All figures taken from online research conducted by OnePoll, who targeted a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults in August 2015.


About Weight Watchers             

Weight Watchers is the world’s leading provider of weight management services with over 50 years of experience. Weight Watchers is committed to providing a comprehensive approach to weight loss that is based on the latest scientific thinking and research. Sustained weight loss comes from taking a holistic view of all its components - food, exercise, behaviour and a supportive atmosphere, the Weight Watchers four pillar approach.

WEIGHT WATCHERS and SmartPoints®​ are the registered trademarks of Weight Watchers International, Inc. Trademark used under license by Weight Watchers UK Limited and Limited.

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About Dr Jack

Dr Jack Lewis has a first class degree in neuroscience from the University of Nottingham in 2001, earned his neuroscience Ph.D. at UCL in 2005 and went on in 2010 to publish his post-doctoral research in the Journal of Neuroscience for studies investigating human brains.


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