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Weight Management: U.S. Consumer Mindsets

  • August 2014
  • -
  • Packaged Facts
  • -
  • 104 pages


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The upward trend in obesity that has vexed public health officials for decades may have leveled out and the healthy eating movement remains on the upswing. Still, nearly 100 million Americans are watching their diet to lose weight or to maintain their current weight.

Successful weight management remains a tough and never-ending battle for many Americans trying to stay on a traditional diet plan. The majority of overweight Americans find that the very idea of a strict diet poses an obstacle to their weight loss desires. 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.

Moreover, dieters trying to stick to their current diet plan or eating strategy face challenges from all sides, especially from the temptation posed by foods they crave but aren’t supposed to eat regularly. As a result, a majority of those on a diet plan have been on it for less than nine months.

Against this background, Weight Management: U.S. Consumer Mindsets takes an in-depth look at the transformation that is now underway in the culture of weight management in America. Using data compiled by Packaged Facts National Online Consumer Survey, the report digs deeply into the mindsets of consumers immersed in managing their weight.

The report highlights a wide array of fundamental changes in how Americans view what needs or can be done to lose or maintain weight. One trend highlighted by the report is the growing alignment of weight management efforts with ongoing changes in contemporary American eating habits. Instead of controlling what they eat at mealtimes, today’s consumers are much more likely to focus on changing their snacking habits in order to achieve weight loss success, a practical and realistic strategy that reflects the increasing prevalence of snacking in America today. According to Packaged Facts survey data, only 32% of those following a diet plan or eating strategy try to lose weight by eating in moderation at meals. More than twice as many (66%) say they limit how much they eat when they snack, while 62% set boundaries on how often they snack.

Another 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.

Scope of the Report

In general, weight management is divided into two categories of consumer behavior: efforts to lose weight and efforts to maintain weight. Simmons National Consumer Study (NCS) data used in the report specifically define the two categories of consumers involved in weight management activities as follows: “those watching their diet to maintain weight” and “those watching their diet to lose weight.” For the sake of convenience, when referring to these Simmons NCS categories the report uses the terms “those on a weight maintenance diet” or “those on a weight loss diet,” and can also refer to “weight losers” and “weight maintainers.” Weight losers are further categorized as those who are 30 or more pounds overweight (or “significantly” overweight) and those who are not 30 or more pounds overweight.

In referring to Packaged Facts National Online Consumer Survey data the report analyzes those who are taking steps to lose weight (“weight losers”). Weight losers are further divided into those who are on a specific diet plan or eating strategy (or “weight loss dieters”) and those who are not.


The consumer data in this report come from several sources. These include the Packaged Facts National Online Consumer Survey conducted in July/August 2014. These surveys reflect a panel of 2,000 U.S. adults (age 18+) that is balanced to the national population on the primary demographic measures of gender, age bracket, race/ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, presence or absence of children in the household and household income.

Another source is Simmons National Consumer Study (NCS) for Winter 2014 from Experian Marketing Services, which was fielded from January 2013 through March 2014. (The report uses the Winter 2009 NCS in the case of 5-year-trend tables and figures.) On an ongoing basis, Experian Marketing Services conducts booklet-based surveys of a large and random sample of consumers (approximately 25,000 for each 12-month survey compilation) who in aggregate represent a statistically accurate cross-section of the U.S. population.

Retail sales figures credited to IRI (Chicago, IL) are based on IRI aggregated multi-outlet (MULO) sales tracking, which represents sales through U.S. supermarkets, drugstores (including Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid), mass merchandisers (Walmart, Target, Kmart, and Shopko), warehouse clubs (Sam’s Club and BJ’s, but excluding Costco), dollar stores (excluding Dollar Tree), and military commissaries.

The report is also based upon data collected from a wide range of industry sources, including company websites, trade publications, business newspapers and magazines, consumer blogs and releases from public companies.

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