Searching for a ‘summer body’: how are UK adults feeling after the colder months?

Megan Widdows
Written by

Megan Widdows

9th April 2021

Every year, during the dark days of winter, we look forward to the summer with its warmer days and sunshine. But for many people, the thought of summer can be stressful, with the pressure of achieving the perfect ‘summer body’. 

Whether it’s because we want to fit into a particular bikini, look our best for being reunited with our friends, or simply feel comfortable wearing fewer clothes in the warmer weather, the ‘summer body’ panic can begin as early as March for many of us. 

Here at Second Nature, we’re launching a campaign to take a stand against ‘summer bodies’. We believe that making small, sustainable changes to improve our health should be a year-round goal. Instead of using restrictive fad diets and obsessing over the perfect ‘summer body’, we’re telling people to improve your health for the whole year and beyond!

As part of our campaign #ABody’sNotJustForSummer, we commissioned research to find out how people in the UK feel about their diet and lifestyle ahead of the summer, after just over a year in lockdown. 

We found that 70% of people want to lose weight before 21st June, with almost 60% of people gaining weight during lockdown. Nearly 1 in 3 women reported that they’d feel anxious about the summer months if they didn’t diet beforehand. 

Our research also revealed that…

  • 58% of people are exercising more frequently
  • 56% of people are eating more healthily 

People aged between 25 and 34 are most likely to be taking extreme measures to lose weight before 21st June. 

Our research suggests that… 

  • 21% of this age group are taking diet pills 
  • 18% of this age group are having weight-loss surgery 
  • 34% are exercising excessively 
  • 28% are skipping meals 

This year, panic around wanting to look and feel our best for summer is coupled with anxiety for many of us. That might be anxiety around being out in the ‘real world’ again after months of staying at home in lockdown. It could also be anxiety around going too far and ‘binging’ on less healthy foods and alcohol once social events are permitted. 

Our research suggests that…

  • 1 in 4 people felt anxious about lockdown restrictions lifting because they’ve put on weight
  • 1 in 5 people are worried that they no longer have an excuse not to go out post-lockdown
  • 1 in 3 young people (18-24 years) gave up alcohol over lockdown, but feel they will struggle to continue to do so after restrictions are lifted. 

Likewise, Londoners were most worried about alcohol consumption post-lockdown – 44% of people said they would struggle to continue to give up alcohol once restrictions lifted. People in London are also most likely to be taking extreme measures, with 24% of Londoners skipping meals and 18% taking diet pills to lose weight before 21st June, higher than any other region of the UK.

Across all age groups, 1 in 4 UK adults is choosing to diet before lockdown restrictions ease. It’s natural that after spending so long in lockdown, we all want to look and feel our best this summer. For some people, dieting feels like the only option. 

However, our research also found that…

  • Only 5% of people have been able to stick to a summer diet in the past
  • The most common blocker to losing weight in the past was feeling hungry, especially for women. 
  • 40% of women struggle to lose weight because they’re hungry compared to 28% of men. 

The idea of having the perfect ‘summer body’ can put us under a lot of pressure and leave us feeling somewhat desperate. As a result, many people choose popular fad diets to try to achieve their short term weight loss goals. 

Fad diets often involve:

  • cutting out entire food groups
  • only eating particular fruits or vegetables
  • heavily restricting calorie intake
  • only consuming liquids
  • taking herbal supplements or laxatives

Although you may initially lose weight, the restriction involved means they are challenging to maintain in the long term, explaining why only 5% of people have been able to stick to a summer diet in the past. 

With our campaign, we’re aiming to remind people that there is no such thing as a ‘summer body’, and that ‘summer diets’ that rely on fad trends aren’t a long term solution. We’re hoping to help as many people as possible recognise that #ABody’sNotJustForSummer and support them in looking and feeling their best all year round.

As an alternative to quick-fix diets, the Second Nature programme helps you recalibrate your lifestyle, lose weight, and keep it off by combining scientific articles and simple recipes with in-app tracking and support.

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