Weight struggles affect a very wide section of the population and my clients come from all walks of life.

When I listen to their efforts, I often wonder whether those who live on their own have a harder time controlling their weight than those living with others or vice versa.

Many of you will recognise this as a legitimate issue and, as a former yo-yo dieter, I certainly do.

Other readers may consider it a very strange question. Here's why: The implication of the question is that we eat in response to other people, whereas, of course, we should eat in response to our stomach.

We are built to eat in response to hunger and not in response to the question: "Does my partner think I'm a glutton?" or "Will he/she notice if I sneak a packet of crisps?"

The only valid question before eating is: "Am I hungry?" If the answer is yes, then go ahead but if the answer is no, wait till later.

That's the theory but you and I know things are different in practice. Are you kept in check by others or tempted by them?

Are you the sort of person who is embarrassed to do anything more than nibble in public or do you feel you are given permission to eat by the presence of others eating?

I would say the jury is out.

Or, more simply, there are advantages and disadvantages of each state.

Let's list the advantages of living on your own for controlling your weight:

You can eat exactly when you like (according to your hunger); you can eat what you like; you can eat as little as you like; you can avoid cooking if you like to keep out of the kitchen; you can buy ready made food without it being too expensive; you can exercise at strange times of day and night; you can leave the house on a whim to avoid food.

Now the advantages of living with others:

The idea that someone may be watching keeps you from picking; the need or desire to cook may lead to more nutritious meals; conversation may lead to less eating; a partner for exercise may lead to greater commitment; you're less likely to eat out of boredom or loneliness.

There you have the list of advantages on both sides. If you can think of other points, please let me know.

I'll leave you to list the disadvantages of both situations.

By listing the advantages and disadvantages, you can see that you can make what you like of your circumstances.

There is, however, something else to bear in mind. If living on your own is of concern, it implies you may have a tendency to use other people to control your food intake.

The long-term risk in doing so is that you may become a secret eater.

If you're embarrassed to eat too much in front of your partner, family or friends, eventually you'll take to eating on your own in the vain hope that if no one sees, the calories don't count.

If you're trying to lose weight because someone else wants you to (especially if you're living together) and they pass derogatory comments when they see you eating so-called fattening food, you will inevitably eat that food when they are out.

This is the thin end of the wedge. It's important to do it for yourself and then it won't matter whether you're living on your own or with others.

You can get support from Dr Judy Citron and her team of DietCoaches by joining her telephone weight-loss classes, right from your own home. "You lose weight and you're not on a diet. It's amazing." Phone free for more information on 0800 074 0260 or visit the web site at www.thedietcoach.com