January may be the month to make a resolution to lose weight, but March is when most people actually try to follow through on it, a new survey finds.

March is the peak dieting month, with 26 percent of adults saying they’re on one vs. 23 percent in January, according to a survey out today by the research firm NPD Group.

The reason, says Harry Balzer, NPD’s vice president who is based in Rosemont, is March’s proximity to swimsuit season.

"January doesn’t require you to take clothes off. In March, it’s imminent," Balzer said.

No more dieters than in 1985
While January isn’t tops for dieting, it is the month when the most new health club memberships come in, accounting for 12 percent of total new membership sales, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association.

And it is the month that separates those serious about sticking to their resolutions from those looking for a quick fix, says Chicago personal trainer Jenny Lorbeck. Lorbeck, who owns the Energy Training Center in River West, says her busiest months are February through April.

"People hang through it until spring," she said.

The NPD Group, based in Port Washington, N.Y., surveys about 1,000 adults every other week on their dieting habits and another 300 people weekly on their daily eating habits.

While it may seem more people are dieting these days, about 25 percent of Americans are on a diet on any given day — the same number as in 1985, NPD research says.

‘It’s a lifestyle change’
The survey also found that nearly a third of dieters prefer to be on a diet of their own design. Twelve percent of dieters are on a doctor-prescribed plan. And of the branded diets, Weight Watchers is the most popular, drawing about 11 percent of dieters.

"We never use the four-letter word ‘diet’ at Weight Watchers," spokeswoman Kristi Widmar said of the program’s popularity. "We always say weight loss. It’s a lifestyle change. There’s something that happens to you when you at least approach it that way. You don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself that much."

More here.