While The Biggest Loser, the Paleo Diet, MyFitnessPal apps, the Glycemic Index, and the Flexitarian Diet are among the latest diet crazes, it may well be the widespread movement to manage weight by simply eating healthier that holds the most potential for food and beverage marketers. Emerging interest in improving muscle/body tone, naturally curbing cravings/appetite, and managing health conditions/risk factors through weight loss are among the new weight-directed opportunities gaining attention.
2014 statistics from the American Heart Assn. confirm that over 155 million adults and 24 million children are overweight or obese. It’s no wonder that sales of foods and beverages to promote weight loss are projected to reach $32.8 billion by 2017, up from $29.4 billion in 2012, according to Packaged Facts’ 2013 report Weight Loss in the U.S. According to HealthFocus data, 67% of U.S. consumers say that weight/body image affects their food purchases.
Just over half (56%) of adults tried to lose and 27% worked to maintain weight in 2013, according to the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) Food & Health Survey. Baby boomers ages 45–64 are the most likely to be trying to lose; those ages 65+ are most likely to be focused on maintaining weight, reports Packaged Facts.
How much do dieters want to lose? According to Mintel, 25% would like to lose 10–19 pounds, 31% want to shed 20–49 pounds, and 20% have a weight-loss goal of 50 pounds or more.
Restricting calories/eating less remains the most common approach, adopted by 69% of dieters, followed by eating/drinking healthy foods or foods with health benefits (e.g., following the Mediterranean Diet), explains Mintel. While Weight Watchers is America’s most popular diet plan, a generic high protein/low carb diet is second, according to Consumer Reports’ 2013 Rate the Diet Plan Survey.
Seven in 10 dieters think that protein is important when dieting, according to Gallup data, and two-thirds of dieters try to include plenty of fiber in their diet, Mintel reports. Globally, ingredients trending upward to support weight-control claims include the B vitamins, vitamin D, milk protein, inulin, conjac, calcium, and green tea.
Sales of weight-loss meal replacements—bars, beverages, and candy—are projected to rise from $4.2 billion in 2012 to $4.9 billion in 2017, per Packaged Facts. Bars remain the largest meal replacement sector, and high fiber and high protein are the top two consumer criteria for weight-loss bars, according to Mintel’s 2013 Nutritional Food & Drink in the U.S. report. Sales of diet carbonated soft drinks fell 6% in 2013, according to Nielsen, as dieters moved to flavored and sparkling no-/low-calorie waters. In addition, according to Mintel, 55% of those dieting prefer to eat foods without artificial additives vs 46% of the general population with this preference. No-/low-/reduced-calorie and slimming claims rose significantly in North America in the alcoholic drink sector.
Packaged Facts reports that dieters say breakfast is their most important meal. With recent research indicating that a moderate intake of protein (20–30 g) throughout the day optimizes weight and muscle, high-protein breakfast foods will reach superstar status for dieters.
Foods that offer greater satiety are gaining in popularity. Gallup reports that, after water, fiber and protein are the two most-recognized ingredients for satiety.
Interest in body toning, sculpting, and building lean muscle mass is crossing over into the mass market from the sports nutrition sector. Consumers are paying more attention to muscle tone, body composition, and body fat, which means that products that address these areas of interest represent fast-accelerating mass market opportunities, according to Sloan Trends’ TrendSense™ predictive model. Very low calorie diets and medically supervised diets (e.g., Medifast) may appeal to significant numbers of consumers seeking to lose weight. Weight management is the driving force for recent interest in blood sugar control, according to Sloan Trends’ TrendSense™ model. Curbing cravings and the sustainable energy achieved through blood sugar control are also of benefit to dieters. The Glycemic Index, currently featured in the Nutrisystem diet plan, reached mass market awareness levels in 2013, and there is potential for product developers and marketers to capitalize on that awareness.
Also noteworthy is the fact that much of dieting is health-directed. One-third of those who are trying/have tried to lose weight have done so to lower blood pressure; among those ages 55+, the total increases to half. One-quarter dieted to prevent/control diabetes, and the same percentage did so because of concerns about heart disease.
A. Elizabeth Sloan
, Contributing Editor
President, Sloan Trends Inc., Escondido, Calif.