Columnnist Ruth Wishart wonders whether the lucrative slimming industry really wants dieters to succeed...

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Am planning a full frontal war on the use of a particular four letter word. No more talking dirty. And the best place to start is home.

So never again will you hear the word ‘diet’ pass my lips. It will, however, pass just about everyone else’s.

January is the month where every publication of every shape and size comes up with a variety of “fail safe” ways to get women into that size 10 number which last fitted around the date of their wedding, and men to fasten that pair of cool trousers without the waist band expiring or their rear end making an unscheduled appearance through the stitching.

Which should make us all ponder why, if all these writers, nutritionists, dieticians and fancy titled institutions really had cracked the weight loss conundrum, how come they’re still in business.

The bottom line, whatever yours looks like, is that the only guaranteed route to slenderdom is eating less and exercising more.

The fact that we all know that apparently totally fails to stoop us being susceptible to promises of magic, pills, potions, unlikely physical regimes, or eating patterns.

And every few years one catches on to such an extent that for a few months everybody you ever met becomes an instant diet bore.

You might remember the one majoring on bananas, one on pineapples, one on particularly unappetising soup drinks, one urging more carbs and one urging more protein.

Some of them have sexy adjectives attached, like California – a state in which you never ever see anyone fat!

The only one I’ve ever seen work for any length of time with friends and acquaintances is the ‘5 and 2’, where you eat pretty much as usual for five days in the week and have a radically curtailed calorie intake for the other two. Sadly I only ever managed the five-day bit.

There is also not so much a cottage as a mansion house industry in slimmers’ clubs and magazines. Here the psychology is pretty upfront. These folks know we are but weak human beings, with wills of slack elastic, and argue that what we need is the comfort and stability of group action.

And, like all such things, they tend to work for a while during the early enthusiasm. Then get hit by something totally predictable, like Christmas parties, or realising that you are never going to be that ‘one small glass of dry white person’ as a long term lifestyle choice.

PS: I am indebted to the wondrous Judy Murray for posting a picture on her Twitter feed of a line of Australian men of a certain age and shape all posing proudly in their Speedo swimwear. And why the first should never be caught dead in the second.

I happily re-tweeted it only to have a bloke say: “Matched by the sight of women of a certain age in leggings!” Touché, sir.