Calorie counting is a declining trend

Ditching the ‘diet’: Americans want to shed pounds, but they're tiring of traditional weight loss regimes, says Packaged Facts

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

While a third of Americans are obese, manufacturers seeking to help them battle the bulge are avoiding the word ‘diet’ like the plague; cutting sugar, fat and calories by stealth; and instead promoting more positive messages about food quality, protein and health and wellness.
While a third of Americans are obese, manufacturers seeking to help them battle the bulge are avoiding the word ‘diet’ like the plague; cutting sugar, fat and calories by stealth; and instead promoting more positive messages about food quality, protein and health and wellness.

Related tags: Weight management, Weight loss, Obesity, Nutrition, U.s.

While 28% (66 million) of American adults are trying to lose weight, and a further 14% (32 million) are trying to maintain their weight, they are losing interest in strict diet plans, calorie-counting and ‘diet’ foods, says a new report from Packaged Facts.

Indeed, as Euromonitor and Datamonitor have also observed, 'diet' has become something of a dirty word in food marketing these days, as shoppers seek out more sustainable ways to manage their weight by focusing on food quality, says ‘Weight Management: U.S. Consumer Mindsets’. 

“Most agree that they would like to lose weight but assert that they find it too hard to stick to a strict diet plan or eating strategy.”

DIY dieting

And as a result, the boundaries between ‘diet’ and ‘regular’ foods are becoming increasingly blurred, with many shoppers spurning the weight management aisle and looking to mainstream healthy options such as protein-packed Greek yogurt or oatmeal to keep hunger pangs at bay, it adds.

“[One] aspect of today’s weight management culture is the increasing tendency of consumers to turn away from formal diet plans imposed by outside authority and to conflate ‘dieting’ with ‘healthy eating’.

“With the aid of mobile platforms that enable consumers to monitor their health and track their weight management efforts, DIY dieters increasingly embrace their own private healthy eating and exercise regimes as the path to weight loss success.”

Low-fat, low-calorie options losing their luster

‘Food minus’ concepts are also losing their appeal, says the report, which was released as the CDC published data​ showing that obesity rates exceed 30% in nearly half of US states.

Chobani Simply 100
Americans watching their weight are increasingly spurning traditional diet foods and looking to high protein foods such as Greek yogurt to help them stave off hunger pangs, say market researchers

“Between 2009 and 2014 dieters turned away from low-fat/fat-free and reduced calorie types of packaged foods and now increasingly favor regular types of a wide range of food products.

“Packaged Facts expects that this trend will continue and will increasingly affect products whose regular varieties are now more favored by a significantly higher percentage of dieters such as dry mix and prepared salad dressings, mayonnaise, American cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, pancake syrup, margarine, non-dairy cream substitutes, ice cream, potato chips, snack cakes and puddings.”

Fewer Americans are counting calories

Calorie-counting is also a declining trend, says Packaged Facts: “Weight losers are now less focused on counting calories.

“Between 2009 and 2014 the percentage of weight loss dieters who always think of the calories in what they eat fell from 46% to 40%, while the percentage of those eating what they like regardless of calories edged upward from 50% to 53%.”

Women diet to lose weight, men want to maintain weight

As to gender differences, women are still far more likely than men to say they are dieting to lose (rather than maintain) weight, with Non-Hispanic white women in the 55+ age group forming the core of weight loss dieters.

However, with the exception of significantly overweight people, “Americans watching their diet are now more likely to be satisfied with not gaining more weight rather than struggling to shed pounds​,” claims Packaged Facts.

Americans are snacking more than ever, says Packaged Facts, but those watching their weight are trying to moderate their snacking, or at least choose healthier options

“Between 2009 and 2014 the number of consumers watching their diet to maintain their weight grew 12.8%, or nearly twice as fast as the growth in the population of those seeking to lose weight.”

Looking at why​ Americans think they are overweight, survey data suggests that the factor overweight adults believe contributes most significantly to being overweight is not exercising enough, it adds.

The highest priority for those taking steps to lose weight is to get control of their snacking habits

So what weight loss strategies are Americans employing as they move away from hardcore diet regimes and obsessive calorie counting?

“The highest priority for those taking steps to lose weight is to get control of their snacking habits​,” says Packaged Facts. “Two in three (66%) limit how much they eat when they snack and 62% set boundaries on how often they snack.”

Meanwhile, food shoppers on a weight loss diet plan are much more likely to say they are making more of an effort to buy foods with natural or organicingredients (59% vs. 41%), says the researcher.

slim fast
Unilever sold its Slim Fast weight management brand to private equity firm Kainos Capital this summer

“As a result, they are much more likely to buy their groceries from retailers in the natural channel.”

They are also “significantly more likely to have confidence in the ingredients of food products of local and regional brands than in products marketed by big national food companies​”.

Market for weight management products likely to remain flat

So where does this leave traditional weight management products?

In a difficult place, says the report: “According to Simmons NCS data, the number of consumers using non-prescription pills, meal replacement products and reducing candies declined by more than 20% between 2009 and 2014.

“For the 52 weeks ending July 13, 2014, IRI data show a 4.7% decline in volume sales of weight control candy/tablets, while volume sales in the category of weight control/ nutritional liquids/powders stayed essentially flat, registering a 1% increase for the year.”

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Posted by Sylvia,

I stopped counting calories and started paying more attention to the quality of my food. here is a blog I wrote on the subject:

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Posted by Angelica Resler,

Hey, I've always had problems with weight and I have tried so many things. Different things work for different people and I was lucky enough to find one that worked for me. I lost 25 pounds in month and a half without too much exercise and it's been a life changer. I'm a little embarrased to post my before and after photos here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I've been doing then I'd be happy to help in any way. Just shoot me an email at and I'll show you my before and after photos, and tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I've tried. I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day.

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