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Weight Management: U.S. Consumer Mindsets

Weight Management: U.S. Consumer Mindsets

It’s the modern American paradox. Nearly one-third of Americans – 100 million of us – are watching their diet. We want to lose weight or maintain our current weight. Yet people continue to gain weight, and even though levels of obesity may have stabilized, you’re far more likely to hear someone say “I’m going on a diet” than “I need to eat more.”

What exactly do Americans think about weight management? That’s what Packaged Facts wanted to find out, and using our proprietary survey capability, we asked. The results form the basis of our new report, Weight Management: U.S. Consumer Mindsets.

Weight management isn’t easy, and traditional diets are often started and then quickly abandoned. Mentally it’s hard to accept a strict diet plan. One little cookie won’t hurt, will it? Probably not, but that cookie is often the first step in the road to slipping back into eating habits that got the dieter to this stage in the first place.

How can food marketers navigate the dieting world and self-contradictory impulses Americans so often have? Packaged Facts found that there’s a wide array of fundamental changes in how Americans view what needs or can be done to lose or maintain weight. For example, the report found that Americans are focusing on their snacking habits, rather than mealtime eating, to lose weight. This makes sense when you consider how important snacking has become in our lifestyles. 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.

Packaged Facts also found that consumers are moving away from formal diet plans imposed by outside authority, while increasingly associating 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.


  • 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
      • Nestlé Seeks to Reboot Weight Management Line
      • Green Giant Reaches Out to Diet Cheaters
      • Nutrisystem Targets DIY Dieters
      • Special K Fights "Fat Talk"
  • 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 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"?
      • Any Diet Plan Better than No Diet Plan
    • Marketing Opportunities
      • Opportunities for Food Marketers Depend on Complex Purchasing Motives
        • Table 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 Percent of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight with Household Income of $150,000 or More, 2014 (in thousands)
        • Table Measures of Financial Confidence of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014
      • Dieters Primed to Try Out New Food Products
        • Table Attitudes Toward Trying New Food Products of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014
      • Dieters Tuned in to Social Media
        • Table Impact of Social Sharing Networks on Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014
  • Overview of Weight Management
    • Who's Managing Their Weight Today: The Topline
      • More than 40% of Adults Are Managing Their Weight
      • Women Diet to Lose Weight, Men Want to Maintain Weight
        • Table 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
      • Stigma Declines but Overweight People Remain Unforgiving about Selves
        • Table Attitudes toward Being Overweight, Overweight vs. Not Overweight Adults by Gender, 2014
      • Overweight Women Most Likely to Feel Sting of Discrimination
        • Table Perceptions of Discrimination, Overweight vs. Not Overweight Adults by Gender, 2014
      • Lack of Exercise Remains a Prime Culprit
        • Table Number and Percent of Men and Women Engaged in Regular Exercise over Past 12 Months, 2004 vs. 2014 (in thousands)
        • Table Participation of Overweight Adults in Physical Exercise, 2014
      • Signs of Progress on Healthy Eating Front
      • But Poor Eating Habits Still Hurt
        • Table 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
      • Weight Loss Dieters Different from Weight Maintenance Dieters
        • Table Demographic Profile of Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014 (percent, index)
      • Women Predominant among Significantly Overweight Dieters
        • Table Consumers 30 or More Pounds Overweight and Watching Their Diet to Lose Weight, by Age and Gender, 2014 (percent, index)
  • Weight Management Today
    • Motivations for Weight Management
      • Health Concerns Drive Interest in Watching Diet
        • Table Reasons Why Adults Are Dieting or Watching What They Eat, 2014 (percent)
      • Body Image Also Drives Efforts to Lose Weight
        • Table Factors Very Important in Motivating Weight Losers, 2014 (percent)
      • Gender Gap in Motivations to Lose Weight
        • Table Factors Very Important in Motivating Weight Losers by Gender, 2014 (percent)
      • Dieting Boosts Self-Image of Overweight Adults
        • Table Attitudes of Overweight Adults toward Being Overweight by Participation in a Weight Loss Diet, 2014 (percent)
      • Overweight a Subjective Concept for Many
        • Table 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 Strategies of Weight Losers, 2014 (percent)
      • Diet Plans Lead to More Intense Efforts to Lose Weight
        • Table 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 Mealtime/Snacking Patterns of Weight Losers, 2014 (percent)
      • Healthy Snacks Preferred by Those Trying to Maintain Weight
        • Table 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 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
      • Craving for Forbidden Foods Poses Hardest Challenge for Dieters
        • Table 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 Length of Time on Current Diet, 2014 (percent)
    • Food Shopping Patterns
      • Natural Channel Attracts Dieting Food Shoppers
        • Table 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 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 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 Product Characteristics That Are Very Important When Food Shopping, 2014 (percent, index)
      • Weight Losers and Weight Maintainers on Different Tracks
        • Table Types of Food Bought When Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014 (percent, index)
      • Gluten-Free Products Get Attention from Weight Loss Dieters
        • Table 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 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 Attitudes of Weight Losers Toward Food Marketers, 2014 (percent, index)
  • Weight Management Trends
    • Historical Trends in Weight Management
      • Weight Maintenance Diets Outpace Weight Loss Efforts
        • Table 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 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 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 Number and Percent of Consumers 30 or More Pounds Overweight Watching Their Diet to Lose Weight, 2009 vs. 2014 (in thousands)
        • Table 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 Eating Habits of Consumers Watching Their Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2009 vs. 2014 (percent)
      • Weight Losers Less Focused on Counting Calories
        • Table 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 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 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 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 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 Percent of Those Watching Diet to Lose Weight Using Non-Prescription Products, 2009 vs. 2014 (in thousands)
        • Table 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 Type of Non-Prescription Diet Products Bought by Consumers Watching Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight, 2014
  • Marketing Strategies
    • Strategic Overview
      • Food and Beverage Marketers Heed Call to Remove Calories from Market
      • Marketers Profit from Consumer Drive for Lower Calorie Eating
      • Nestlé Seeks to Reboot Weight Management Line
    • Marketing Approaches
      • Green Giant Reaches Out to Diet Cheaters
      • Nutrisystem Targets DIY Dieters
      • Special K Fights "Fat Talk"
      • Chobani's Marketing Message Stirs Controversy
      • Jenny Craig Welcomes Back Kirstie Alley

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