“I couldn’t believe it – I lost 7st for my best friend’s wedding without ever missing out on carbs and chocolate”

Dawn’s story is shared as new research shows half of UK adults say they’ve put off trying to lose weight due to ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out)


Optician manager Dawn’s concerns about her 19st frame were brought into sharp focus when she was asked to be maid of honour


The study of 2,000 adults[1], led by the UK’s largest weight-loss organisation Slimming World, reveals half of UK adults say they’ve put off losing weight due to ‘FOMO’, with missing out on favourite foods and social events fuelling this fear.

Foods people fear missing out on most are chocolate (29 per cent), takeaways (24 per cent), fish and chips (21 per cent) and fry ups (18 per cent). 

More than three quarters of people say they get pleasure from eating their favourite foods (77 per cent). So much so in fact that more women say they fear missing out on their Sunday roast (35 per cent) than going without sex (21 per cent) and 41 per cent find food nostalgic as it brings back happy memories such as family traditions or routines.

A passionate food lover, Dawn James, 33, from Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, had been struggling for years to lose weight. Weighing 19st 7lbs, when her best friend asked her to be her maid of honour in early 2019, Dawn knew she had to make a change.


Dawn says: “I didn’t realise the effect joining Slimming World would have on my life. Before joining, I was starting to get so tired and uncomfortable at work and going upstairs to check stock would leave me breathless. By the time I’d reached the top, if I was on the phone to a customer, I’d have to put them on hold so I could recover and speak clearly again. By the end of the day, I’d be too exhausted to cook and instead I’d resort to something quick and easy – anything out of the freezer – usually chicken nuggets and chips.

“I’d tried so many times to lose weight. Each time I’d try something new. At first, I’d lose weight but soon after I’d end up putting all the weight (plus more!) back on as I felt restricted and hungry, so I’d lose interest.

“When I joined my local Slimming World group, I felt nervous and excited. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and I felt like I fitted in straight away. Each week, their support means I leave feeling motivated, with a plan for the week ahead.

“Soon after joining, my best friend asked me to be her maid of honour and at this point I knew I truly had to get my head in the game.  I was determined to look and feel my best for both her and me.

“I was amazed that Slimming World’s plan works and nothing is off limits.  I’m a real foodie and thought I’d have to miss out to lose weight – I was wrong! I’ve lost 7st eating the food I love like pasta, potatoes and chocolate. I love the fact I can still eat carbs and chocolate.

“My husband Ben has been so supportive and as I’ve been cooking healthy dinners for us, he’s lost weight without even trying! My mother-in-law comes to group with me and we’re constantly messaging each other, with photos of meals we've made or something we’ve found in the supermarket during that week's shopping trip. We both love the Slimming World App to check supermarket items quickly and choose on the spot whether to buy it or not.


“Since losing weight, I’ve got so much more energy. I walk our dog ‘Fella’ twice a day and walk to and from work which is about 15-20 minutes each way. I’m on my feet all day constantly up and down the stairs and still have energy in the evenings.

“I’ve gone from a size 26 to a size 12 – when I say that out loud it still amazes me! Walking into any high street shop and knowing I’ll find clothes I like in my size is an incredible feeling. This means so much to me as all throughout school and into my teens I was overweight and my mum struggled to get clothes to fit me. Even after school, I’d have to buy online or from specialist ‘plus size’ clothing shops.

“Feeling prepared is one of the main changes I’ve made in my day-to-day life to keep me on track. If we go to a restaurant, I check the menu and choose what I’d like to eat in advance and I plan my weekly meals every weekend. My work colleagues are amazed at what I bring in for lunch and how much I can eat and some have even joined their local groups. We exchange recipe ideas and ask each other how we’re doing, congratulating each other on achievements and sharing how good we look and feel.”

Dawn says: “When the time came to be maid of honour, I felt beautiful. I’d lost weight and was feeling great! I love looking back at the photos and seeing how happy I look. Since then, I’ve got married myself and I was so proud to walk down the aisle in a beautiful wedding dress at least 7 sizes smaller than it would have been if I hadn’t joined Slimming World.”

Dr Amanda Avery, Slimming World's Health and Research Consultant Dietitian

Dr Amanda Avery, health and research consultant dietitian at Slimming World, says: “As Dawn’s story shows, changing habits takes real effort and without support, it can be easy to give up. Being part of a community where you’ll meet other people on the same journey who share their ideas, experiences and advice has been shown to help keep motivation high. Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures so it’s no wonder food FOMO is a very real factor for many of us when it comes to losing weight. There is no need to give up your favourite foods or miss out on the pleasure they bring you though – it’s just about finding new ways to prepare and cook the meals you love.”

Dr Amanda Avery, Slimming World's Health and Research Consultant Dietitian

Debra Maloney runs the Ross-on-Wye Slimming World group and is Dawn’s Slimming World Consultant.  Debra says: “When Dawn first joined our Slimming World group, she was truly fed up as she’d tried lots of different ways to lose weight before and nothing had worked as she’d soon felt too hungry to carry on. Like many members, Dawn didn’t believe me at first when I said she could still eat all her favourite foods and lose weight. After learning about our healthy eating plan and how to make changes in her everyday life, it was wonderful to see Dawn realise that this time, it could work – she could lose weight without ever feeling she was missing out. Supporting Dawn and helping her to lose an incredible 7st has made me, and all the members in our group, who have been behind her every step of the way, so proud.”

The survey, carried out by Censuswide, also polled members of Slimming World’s 13,000 community weight loss groups and online programme. The vast majority of members (88 per cent) say they enjoy eating food as much or more than they did before joining Slimming World and 91 per cent agree you can lose weight while enjoying your favourite food. Of the members questioned, four in five (83 per cent) say you can enjoy social situations while losing weight. 

Professor James Stubbs, Appetite and Energy Balance, University of Leeds

Professor James Stubbs, Appetite & Energy Balance, University of Leeds, agrees the fear of missing out on our favourite foods or feeling deprived goes beyond hunger. He says: “It is overly simplistic to assume that we eat just because we are hungry.  Recognising how food meets different psychological needs in different people helps us explain why people eat what they do when they know it may undermine longer-term weight and health. Typically, people might start to feel deprived of different ‘rewards’ that food gives them when they change their dietary habits for weight loss purposes. What this research, and Dawn’s story shows us, is that our relationship with food can be complex and understanding our relationship with food at an individual level is important in helping people navigate to a healthy diet and healthier weight in a way that fits into their own lives.”

Professor James Stubbs, Appetite and Energy Balance, University of Leeds

Group: Dawn attends the Ross-on-Wye Slimming World group run by Consultant Debra Maloney. For more information or to find your nearest group, visit slimmingworld.co.uk.

Dawn James

Starting weight: 19st 7lbs

Weight lost: 7st

Current weight: 12st 7lbs

Height: 5ft 7in


Breakfast: White bread toast with lots of butter or a pastry

Lunch: Meal Deal i.e. shop bought sandwich, crisps, chocolate, can of cola  

Dinner: Anything from the freezer, for example chicken nuggets and chips

Snacks: Crisps, bars of chocolate

Drinks: Fizzy, sugary drinks, cider


Breakfast: Bacon (with the fat cut off) and poached egg sandwich or bacon and scrambled egg 

Lunch: Slimming World slow cooker chilli  or cottage pie, batch cooked from home and warmed up at work

Dinner: Slimming World Spaghetti Bolognese with salad

Snacks: Fruit, grapes, apples, low fat crisps or low-calorie jelly

Drinks: Water, gin and slimline tonic

[1] The research was conducted by Censuswide, among samples of 2,000 nationally representative UK general consumers along with a self-selecting sample of 1,802 Slimming World members via Slimming World’s member website. The data was collected between 16.11.23 - 21.11.23 and 16.11.23 - 22.11.23 . Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles.