Dieting is at an all-time low but the concept of a “healthy weight” is resonating with Americans and is the primary motivator for those who do begin a diet, said the report from the NPD Group called Weighing in on the American Diet: A Report on the Health and Weight Management Habits of Americans.
It found that most people associated healthy weight with feeling good and feeling healthier, rather than fitting within a small range of ideal weights.
It added that the most popular diet now is one that people call their own and fewer people were attempting “extreme” diets, such as modified fasts, severe calorie restrictions and the elimination of entire food groups.
The report stated: “People appear to be taking a new and different approach because they’ve not been satisfied with past diet attempts and they understood the importance of being at a healthy weight.”
The top complaints about previous diets were that people were “disappointed,” “tended to feel deprived” and thought it was “not a good way to maintain overall health in the long term”.
It said that instead of extreme lifestyle changes that cannot be maintained, more Americans seem to be looking for reasonable strategies that help them achieve or maintain a healthy weight and good health in general.
The health trend
Food manufacturers have tuned into a trend for weight management with targeted products and ingredients and the global weight management category is estimated at more than $7.4bn globally.
One example is soluble fiber which can boost satiety, helping the consumer feel fuller for longer, thus reducing the tendency to snack. Research has also shown it benefits digestive health.
Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) revealed there were 42 satiety products launched in the first quarter of 2008, compared with just one in the first quarter of 2005.
The NPG report, in collaboration with the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program, stated that the percentage of adults who said they are on a diet has steadily gone down over the past decade.
Figures showed that 29 percent of women were currently on a diet, compared to 35 percent ten years ago and 19 percent of men said they were on a diet now, compared to 23 percent ten years ago.
In addition 62 percent of Americans said a healthy weight was when they physically feel good, 45 percent said it was when they feel healthier, 39 percent when they can be active, 38 percent when they feel better about themselves and 27 percent stayed within a small range of ideal weight.
However, an estimated 25.6 percent of US adults reported being obese in 2007, compared to 23.9 percent in 2005 which is an increase of 1.7 percent, according to a study published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report last month.
Experts say that efforts need to be made to reduce these figure and this provides opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers to position consumer products that address this.
The study drew from the five NPD Group databases – The NPD Dieting Monitor, National Eating Trends, Nutrient Intake Database, Health Track Database and customized consumer research collected in November 2007.