Diet Products Decline as Americans Trade for Well-Rounded Diets. New Mintel Report

January 8, 2016
Jennifer Grebow
Jennifer Grebow

Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.

Also, does this mean the approach of the new 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is on target?

Ninety-one percent of Americans now prefer aiming for a well-rounded diet over trendy diets and diet products, according to market researcher Mintel in a new report, Diet Trends U.S. 2015. This in turn has led to “excessive” declining sales for “weight-control tablets,” Mintel says.

Sales of weight-control tablets declined nearly 20% in the year ending July 2015, Mintel reports, with “U.S. consumers agreeing that diet products are not as healthy as they claim to be.” Up to 77% of consumers said they are concerned whether diet food and drinks-and diets in general-are healthy, and 61% believe most diet products are not healthy, Mintel adds.

“Consumers are somewhat skeptical about diet products, and instead of purchasing traditional diet-specific products they are turning to a well-balanced diet and products that support it. The diet industry faces downward pressure as U.S. adults remain skeptical of the ingredients in diet-specific products, their effectiveness in managing weight, and the fact that in reality a magic weight-loss pill likely doesn’t exist,” said Marissa Gilbert, Health and Wellness Analyst, Mintel, in a press release.

So which weight-loss methods are Americans turning to? Calorie counting still leads the pack, with half of U.S. consumers managing weight reporting that they first and foremost count calories to do so, Mintel says.

“Calorie restricting is a traditional method for losing weight and something consumers turn to without additional costs or resources. When consumers simply choose to reduce their calorie intake, they are likely forgoing the use of diet-specific products and services. Alternatively they may have learned calorie restriction while on a diet program and, while no longer active, could still use a similar approach on their own,” Gilbert added.

But there is also a role for meal-replacement shakes and bars (which count 24% of users), followed by raw food or a vegetarian and vegan diet (19%), a high-protein diet (18%), a “nutrition-based diet” (17%), and-signaling the growing adoption of technology for health strategies-using a diet application on a mobile device (17%).

Weight management  is still a high priority for Americans, with 55% reporting they are trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight, Mintel says. Women are the leading participants, with Mintel pegging women aged 55 and older having the biggest weight-loss goals.

Still, older consumers may be less likely to experiment with new dietary approaches-which may make them less likely to try new diet products. “This mature segment likely relies on their past experience with diets to inform their current choices, but could benefit from an updated understanding of the specific types of diets that work best for their life stage. Our research shows that older adults have the biggest weight-loss goals, so despite being a good target for diet-focused products and services, they are less likely to be seeking diet information. Within this older segment, men are least engaged in weight management, making male non-users most difficult to reach while presenting an area of great opportunity,” concluded Gilbert.

A more holistic approach to weight loss and balanced nutrition may reflect new thinking in the way Americans approach health. Indeed, the new 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released yesterday, also increase emphasis on how consumers include healthy eating in their modern lifestyles, and as such, have moved away from focusing on isolated nutrients and instead toward recommending healthier eating choices overall.

“Now more than ever, we recognize the importance of focusing not on individual nutrients or foods in isolation, but on everything we eat and drink-healthy eating patterns as a whole-to bring about lasting improvements in individual and population health,” said Sylvia M. Burwell, HHS Secretary, and Thomas Vilsack, USDA Secretary, jointly introducing the new Dietary Guidelines.

 

Jennifer Grebow
Editor-in-Chief
Nutritional Outlook magazine
jennifer.grebow@ubm.com