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Weight Management: U.S. Consumer Mindsets

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

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.

Methodology

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.

Table Of Contents

Weight Management: U.S. Consumer Mindsets
Chapter 1: Executive Summary
Scope of the Report
Methodology
Key Trends Driving Weight Management Today
Women Diet to Lose Weight, Men Want to Maintain Weight
Obesity Rates Still High but May Have Reached a Plateau
Signs of Progress, but Poor Eating Habits Remain
Health Concerns Increasingly Drive Weight Management Efforts
Dieters Have Begun to Rein in Their Expectations
Americans Rethink How to Shed Pounds
Weight Management Just Another Way of Saying “Healthy Eating”?
Looking to the Future
Weight Management Means Different Things to Different People
Dieters Will Focus on Snacking Habits to Achieve Success
More Dieters Will Continue to Embrace “Regular” Food Products
Focus on Weight Maintenance Will Have Impact on Food Purchases
Natural Channel Will Benefit from Dieters' Shift to Healthy Eating
Smaller, Regional Food Marketers Have Distinct Advantage
Market for Weight Management Products Likely to Remain Flat
Commercial Weight Loss Programs Still Have a Place
DIY Weight Management Tools Pose Growing Competitive Threat
Market Still Women-Dominated, but Men Are Increasingly Important
Weight Maintenance Dieters Are Affluent Consumers
Weight Management Today
Health Concerns Drive Interest in Watching Diet
Body Image Also Drives Efforts to Lose Weight
Gender Gap in Motivations to Lose Weight
Dieting Boosts Self-Image of Overweight Adults
Overweight a Subjective Concept for Many
Diet Plans Lead to More Intense Efforts to Lose Weight
Weight Loss Dieters More Likely to Stick to Three Meals a Day
Between the Idea of Weight Control and the Reality, Falls the Shadow
The Very Thought of Dieting Just Too Hard for Most Overweight People
Craving for Forbidden Foods Poses Hardest Challenge for Dieters
Marketing Strategies
Food and Beverage Marketers Heed Call to Remove Calories from Market
Nestle Seeks to Reboot Weight Management Line
Green Giant Reaches Out to Diet Cheaters
Nutrisystem Targets DIY Dieters
Special K Fights “Fat Talk”
Chapter 2: Insights and Opportunities
Topline Insights
Weight Management Part of Everyday Life for Millions of Americans
Weight Management Efforts Based on Constellation of Health Concerns
Table 2-1 Cross-Tabulation of Reasons Why Adults Are Dieting or Watching What They Eat, 2014
Emotional Well-Being Also a Key Driver
Significantly Overweight Americans Now More Likely to Diet
Other Dieters Rein in Their Expectations
Americans Rethink How to Shed Pounds
Exercise Assigned a Higher Priority
Non-Prescription Diet Products Getting Less Attention
Technology Partners with DIYers to Upend Weight Management
Staying on a Diet Remains Tough for Most
Getting Control of Snacking Seen as Key to Weight Loss Success
Weight Management Just Another Way of Saying “Healthy Eating”?
Figure 2-1 Percent Agreeing “My Eating Patterns Are Healthy,” Weight Losers by Participation in Diet Plan vs. All Adults, 2014
Any Diet Plan Better than No Diet Plan
Marketing Opportunities
Opportunities for Food Marketers Depend on Complex Purchasing Motives
Table 2-2 Food Product Characteristics Important to Food Shoppers Who Are Dieting or Watching What They Eat by Reason for Dieting, 2014
Consumers Worried About Calories Choose Hard and Rough Foods
Smaller, Regional Food Marketers Have Distinct Advantage
Market Is Women-Dominated, But Men Increasingly Important
Weight Maintenance Dieters Are Affluent, Confident Consumers
Table 2-3 Percent of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight with Household Income of $150,000 or More, 2014 (in thousands)
Table 2-4 Measures of Financial Confidence of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014
Dieters Primed to Try Out New Food Products
Table 2-5 Attitudes Toward Trying New Food Products of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014
Dieters Tuned in to Social Media
Table 2-6 Impact of Social Sharing Networks on Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014
Chapter 3: Overview of Weight Management
Who's Managing Their Weight Today: The Topline
More than 40% of Adults Are Managing Their Weight
Figure 3-1 Number of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014
Women Diet to Lose Weight, Men Want to Maintain Weight
Figure 3-2 Number of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose Weight by Gender and Race and Hispanic Origin, 2014
Table 3-1 Number of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight by Key Demographic Segment, 2014
The Context of Weight Management Today
Obesity Rates Still High but May Have Plateaued
Figure 3-3 Percent of Adults 30 or More Pounds Overweight, 2004-2014
Stigma Declines but Overweight People Remain Unforgiving about Selves
Table 3-2 Attitudes toward Being Overweight, Overweight vs. Not Overweight Adults by Gender, 2014
Overweight Women Most Likely to Feel Sting of Discrimination
Table 3-3 Perceptions of Discrimination, Overweight vs. Not Overweight Adults by Gender, 2014
Lack of Exercise Remains a Prime Culprit
Table 3-4 Number and Percent of Men and Women Engaged in Regular Exercise over Past 12 Months, 2004 vs. 2014 (in thousands)
Table 3-5 Participation of Overweight Adults in Physical Exercise, 2014
Signs of Progress on Healthy Eating Front
But Poor Eating Habits Still Hurt
Table 3-6 Factors Perceived by Overweight Adults as Contributing Most Significantly to Being Overweight, 2014 (percent)
Demographic Details
Dieting Starts to Get More Attention as Adults Approach their 40s
Figure 3-4 Percent Dieting to Lose and Maintain Weight, 18- to 34-Year-Olds vs. Adults 35 Years Old and Over, 2014
Weight Loss Dieters Different from Weight Maintenance Dieters
Table 3-7 Demographic Profile of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014 (percent, index)
Women Predominant among Significantly Overweight Dieters
Table 3-8 Consumers 30 or More Pounds Overweight and Watching Their Diet to Lose Weight, by Age and Gender, 2014 (percent, index)
Chapter 4: Weight Management Today
Motivations for Weight Management
Health Concerns Drive Interest in Watching Diet
Table 4-1 Reasons Why Adults Are Dieting or Watching What They Eat, 2014 (percent)
Body Image Also Drives Efforts to Lose Weight
Table 4-2 Factors Very Important in Motivating Weight Losers, 2014 (percent)
Gender Gap in Motivations to Lose Weight
Table 4-3 Factors Very Important in Motivating Weight Losers by Gender, 2014 (percent)
Dieting Boosts Self-Image of Overweight Adults
Table 4-4 Attitudes of Overweight Adults toward Being Overweight by Participation in a Weight Loss Diet, 2014 (percent)
Overweight a Subjective Concept for Many
Table 4-5 Criteria Overweight Adults Use to Determine Whether They Are Overweight, 2014 (percent)
Diet Plans and Eating Strategies
Weight Losers Aim to Cut Back on Their Snacks
Table 4-6 Strategies of Weight Losers, 2014 (percent)
Diet Plans Lead to More Intense Efforts to Lose Weight
Table 4-7 Strategies of Weight Losers on Diet Plan vs. Weight Losers Not on Diet Plan, 2014 (percent)
Weight Loss Dieters More Likely to Stick to Three Meals a Day
Table 4-8 Mealtime/Snacking Patterns of Weight Losers, 2014(percent)
Healthy Snacks Preferred by Those Trying to Maintain Weight
Table 4-9 Snacking Patterns of Adults Watching Diet to Lose Weight by Degree of Overweight vs. Consumers Watching Diet to Maintain Weight, 2014 (percent, index)
Those Overweight by 30+ Pounds More Ridden by Guilt
Table 4-10 Attitudes toward Eating of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose Weight by Degree of Overweight vs. Consumers Watching Diet to Maintain Weight, 2014 (percent, index)
The Quest for Success in Weight Management
Between the Idea of Weight Control and the Reality, Falls the Shadow
The Very Thought of Dieting Just Too Hard for Most Overweight People
Figure 4-1 Percent of Overweight Adults Who Would Like to Lose Weight but Find It Too Hard to Stick to a Strict Diet or Eating Plan, 2014
Craving for Forbidden Foods Poses Hardest Challenge for Dieters
Table 4-11 Main Difficulties in Sticking to Current Dieting Plan or Eating Strategy, 2014 (percent)
Traditional Diets Subject to Rampant Cheating
Some Dieters Giving Up Faster, Some Sticking With It Longer
Table 4-12 Length of Time on Current Diet, 2014 (percent)
Food Shopping Patterns
Natural Channel Attracts Dieting Food Shoppers
Figure 4-2 Percent Agreeing “I Am Making More of an Effort to Buy Food Products with Natural or Organic Ingredients,” Food Shoppers on Weight Loss Diet vs. All Food Shoppers, 2104
Table 4-13 Where Consumers Shopped for Groceries in Last Three Months, Weight Losers by Participation in Diet Plan vs. All Food Shoppers, 2014 (percent)
Health Issues on the Minds of Food Shoppers on a Weight Loss Diet
Table 4-14 Food Buying Patterns, Weight Losers by Participation in Diet Plan vs. All Adults, 2014 (percent, index)
Weight Maintainers Most Likely to Take Organic and Natural Path
Table 4-15 Food Shopping Patterns of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight by Degree of Overweight, 2014 (percent, index)
Weight Loss Dieters Look for Healthy Ingredients
Table 4-16 Product Characteristics That Are Very Important When Food Shopping, 2014 (percent, index)
Weight Losers and Weight Maintainers on Different Tracks
Table 4-17 Types of Food Bought When Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014 (percent, index)
Gluten-Free Products Get Attention from Weight Loss Dieters
Figure 4-3 Percent Buying or Using Gluten-Free Products in Last Three Months, Weight Losers by Participation in Diet Plan vs. All Adults, 2014
Table 4-18 Reasons for Buying or Using Gluten-Free Products,
Weight Losers vs. All Adults, 2014 (percent)
Protein and Caffeine Top List of Weight Loss Product Ingredients
Table 4-19 Selected Ingredients in Products or Supplements Purchased for Weight Loss by Those Taking Steps to Lose Weight, 2014 (percent)
Weight Loss Dieters Distrust Food Marketers and Manufacturers
Table 4-20 Attitudes of Weight Losers Toward Food Marketers, 2014 (percent, index)
Chapter 5: Weight Management Trends
Historical Trends in Weight Management
Weight Maintenance Diets Outpace Weight Loss Efforts
Table 5-1 Growth in Number of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2009 vs. 2014 (in thousands)
More Men Get Serious About Watching Their Weight
Table 5-2 Growth in Number of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight by Gender, 2009 vs. 2014 (in thousands)
Boomers and Younger Men Drive Growth in Weight Maintenance Diets
Table 5-3 Change in Number of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight by Gender and Age Group, 2009 vs. 2014 (in thousands)
Significantly Overweight Consumers Now More Likely to Diet
Table 5-4 Number and Percent of Consumers 30 or More Pounds Overweight Watching Their Diet to Lose Weight, 2009 vs. 2014 (in thousands)
Table 5-5 Number and Percent of Consumers Watching Their Diet to Lose Weight by Degree of Overweight, 2009 vs. 2014 (in thousands)
Trends in Eating Habits
Snacking Now More Popular Among Dieters
Table 5-6 Eating Habits of Consumers Watching Their Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2009 vs. 2014 (percent)
Weight Losers Less Focused on Counting Calories
Table 5-7 Calorie Counting by Consumers Watching Their Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2009 vs. 2014 (percent)
Weight Maintenance Dieters Feel More Guilty When Eating Fattening Foods
Table 5-8 Food Guilt by Consumers Watching Their Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2009 vs. 2014 (percent)
Food Purchasing Trends
Dieters Look for Different Healthy Ingredients
Table 5-9 Types of Food Bought When Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2004 vs. 2014 (percent)
Dieters Turn Away from Low-Fat/Fat-Free Products
Table 5-10 Use of Low-Fat/Fat-Free Products by Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2009 vs. 2014 (percent)
More Dieters Embrace “Regular” Food Products
Table 5-11 Use of Selected Low-Fat/Fat-Free, Reduced Calorie and Regular Food Products by Households of Dieters, 2009 vs. 2014 (percent)
Trends in Use of Weight Management Products
Non-Prescription Weight Management Products on Downward Trend
Table 5-12 Percent of Those Watching Diet to Lose Weight Using Non-Prescription Products, 2009 vs. 2014 (in thousands)
Table 5-13 IRI-Tracked Sales of Non-Prescription Weight Control Products by Dollar and Volume Growth and Type, 52 Weeks Ending July 13, 2014
Significantly Overweight Dieters More Likely to Use Weight Loss Products
Table 5-14 Type of Non-Prescription Diet Products Bought by Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014
Chapter 6: Marketing Strategies
Strategic Overview
Food and Beverage Marketers Heed Call to Remove Calories from Market
Marketers Profit from Consumer Drive for Lower Calorie Eating
Nestle Seeks to Reboot Weight Management Line
Marketing Approaches
Green Giant Reaches Out to Diet Cheaters
Illustration 6-1 Green Giant's “Giant Difference” Campaign
Nutrisystem Targets DIY Dieters
Illustration 6-2 Nutrisytem's NuMi Digital Weight Loss System
Special K Fights “Fat Talk”
Illustration 6-3 Special K's “Shhhhut Down Fat Talk” Campaign
Chobani's Marketing Message Stirs Controversy
Illustration 6-4 Chobani Simply 100 Greek Yogurt
Jenny Craig Welcomes Back Kirstie Alley
Illustration 6-5 Jenny Craig's “Coming Home” Campaign

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