Studies confirm that coaching can help people achieve difficult goals.  These recent reports look specifically at eating and diet issues:

a University of Pittsburgh study finds that dieters with support from others stick with their change efforts 22% more often.
– a Kaiser-Permanente study shows that dieters with phone check-ins lose more than those without.
-a Duke University study follows 1,000 dieters who’ve lost weight—and those who keep contact with a weight loss professional lose more and regain less.
-a Brigham Young University study finds that dieters with telephone coaching lose more both initially and over the long term than those without.
-a multi-year study from Stanford University suggests that phone coaching helps people maintain diet and fitness plans better in both the short- and long-term, and that the results continue even after the coaching period has finished.

And here are some quotes from authors on the subject:

“Few people who have struggled with dieting can lose weight and sustain that weight loss without help and encouragement from another person.” – per Dr. Judith Beck, psychologist and author of The Beck Diet Solution.

“Research shows that humans tend to do difficult things with others much better than on their own.” – cites Martha Beck, coach, author of The Joy Diet and other books.

“The secret to doing anything hard….is to not do it alone.” – begins Dr. Mehmet Oz in a recent RealAge newsletter.

“People can change the deep-rooted patterns of how they think, feel, and act.” – says Alan Deutschman, author of Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life.

(Deutschman stresses the importance of working with someone who “inspires hope…the relationship helps you to learn, practice, and master the new skills and habits that you’ll need….It helps tremendously to have a good teacher, coach, or mentor to give you guidance, encouragement, and direction along the way. )