8 Things You Don’t Know About the Weight Loss Industry

A recently published marketing report, The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market,  tells a very interesting story about our spending habits on the road to getting thin.

Some of the report’s findings:

1. Consumers spent $61 BILLION to trim down last year. that’s $200 for every man woman and child in this country!

2. If you consider that “only” 75 million Americans are trying to lose weight, that’s $800 per person per year!

3. $3 billion were spent on weight loss chains such as Weight Watchers.

4. Diet pills and meal replacement solutions are a $3 billion market too!

5. Diet food home delivery services such as NutriSystem are a comparably “small” market, just under $1 billion.

6. 80% of dieters try to do so by themselves instead of joining a group or seeing a registered dietitian.

7. The typical Dieter makes 4 attempts per year to try and lose weight. Which means at least 3 fail.

8. Fads are a big part of the diet industry. This year’s hot trends include the Dukan Diet and the 17-Day Diet.

What you need to know:

We’re spending so much and yet, as a country, our average weight is still going up. How can this be?

The answer is very simple – the $61 billion diet industry is dwarfed by the $300 billion fast food industry and the $100 junk food industry.

What to do at the supermarket:

Here’s how to find $1300 a year to spend on healthy, “expensive” foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables:

1. Switch from Soda to tap water ($500 a year saving for a family of 4)

2. Switch from dieting to eating real food ($800 a year saved)

We’re here to help with #2 – subscribe to this blog’s RSS Feed and download our free iPhone App for scanning and choosing healthy groceries.

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  • Greencolander

    I “went on a diet” last year: using http://www.myfitnesspal.com I counted my daily calories. In the process I learned more about how my body uses food, how to choose healthy foods that would provide me with needed energy, fiber and nutrients, and made me realize that there’s a lot of junk out there.  I lost 45 pounds but didn’t feel hungry and didn’t feel like I was missing out. A lot of my friends and colleagues keep asking me for my “secret”: there is no secret, it’s just science. Losing weight and feeling great shouldn’t cost anything.

    • didyb

      I use www.myfitnesspal.com also. I appreciate the fact that they offer nutritional value of foods, not just caloric content. The site also helped me really solidify the need/effect of routine exercise to oppose those days when I would go over my calorie goal. And yes, it is free- just information and no gimmicks. I’ve thought it would be great for Fooducate and myfitnesspal to combine the ability to scan what you eat into the food diary. 

    • Jomiller11

      i use sparkpeople, same concept, different set up 

  • http://www.foodtrainers.net Melissa

    Interesting stat that 80% of people try to lose weight on their own. The problem is a lot of people turn to these fad diets, which might initially lead to weight loss, but then it becomes too hard to sustain. You can only eat pre-packaged food and eliminate a food group for so long. I agree 100% that we should switch from diet food to real food!

  • plaidlight

    My story is pretty much the same as Greencolander,
    except replace myfitnesspal.com with http://www.sparkpeople.com.  No
    wonder I was always hungry, even after eating a huge meal. 
    Pretty much everything I was eating was processed/refined/etc. 
    I’ve switched to eating whole grains at every opportunity, eating
    tons of fruits and veggies and making most of my meals from scratch. 
    I’ve also substantially cut back on portion sizes of meats and treats
    (seriously – a 12oz piece of meat is huge!). I’ve lost over 25#’s, I
    have tons of energy, much better skin/nails/hair, and I also have a
    much more positive outlook on life now.I hate it when I hear
    people say that eating healthy is expensive.  I’ve found pretty
    much the exact opposite. Eating fast food, pizza and pre-packaged
    meals is expensive. Eating normal sized portions of lean meats,
    whole grains (like brown rice, barley and quinoa) with lots of fruits
    and vegetables usually only costs a couple dollars and is much more
    tasty and filling.

    My mom swears by Weight Watchers
    because it “works every time!”. A successful “diet” plan is
    something that you should be able to stick for the long run.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1529459 Colin Jones

     I’m also a SparkPeople user and have been eating a healthy diet for the past 9 months or so. Before that, I was ignoring the nutrition side and focusing on weight lifting and exercise, so I always got annoyed as to why I wasn’t making much progress. After cleaning up my nutrition intake, boom, results! But the best part is that SparkPeople is free! And while I’m doing it for free, my mom saw my progress but determined she needed to return to the one thing that she found most useful a long time ago, which was WeightWatchers. I think her seeing my progress made her want to give it another shot, and she’s been doing well and hasn’t given up, even with a few no-loss weeks. Because I’m always there to remind her, fat loss isn’t linear! And a scale can measure so many things it just isn’t a good indicator.

  • Allison

     I’ve been with Weight Watchers for a couple of years now.  I’ve reached goal and have maintained my weight for the past 8 months.  So far, so good.  It keeps me accountable of what I’ve been eating.  I have a new relationship with food.  My parents really never informed me how to eat healthy, so I’m glad that at 30 I can finally take care of myself and really think about what I put into my body.

  • Lauren

     Love the numbers used here and sadly both “diet” money and fast food money are wasted. I wonder how many soda drinkers say they cannot afford organics.

  • Janey102482

    Like some others here, I use SparkPeople’s website, which is 100% free.  I’ve lost 20 pounds so far and it has honestly been quite easy thanks to the information and trackers available on that site.  I don’t know why anyone would pay for the tools they need to lose weight when they are so readily available.  Sometimes I think that people WANT the faddy part of the diet, like Dukan’s phases or Weight Watchers meetings.  (Yeah, I know WW isn’t really a fad diet, but I’ll never understand why people choose to count points instead of just learning about nutrition and reading the abels that are readily available on all foods!)

  • Beeyull

     An Android App would be awesome!  I’d love to be able to use it. :)

  • diane

    These statistics are horrible when you consider the health issues associated with these facts. Americans really need help slimming down. I currently have lost 20lbs and feel so much better. I still have weight to lose @ 20 more lbs. but I am getting good results with what I am currently doing. 

  • Diane

    No wonder health insurance costs have skyrocketed. 33% of US corporations now offer incentives to their employees who will lose weight through in house programs. In some countries you can be denied entry if you weigh to much.Some Airlines have a pay per pound program. I help people lose weight with an all natural weight loss product. Our product and company is going live on national TV in 3 weeks. #1 ranked product backed by many documented testimonials. We need distributors who want to earn alot of money helping others to lose weight. Watch this short movie http://skinnybodyworks.SBCPower.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511171567 Austin Danger Wiegand

    The fact that American’s pay someone else to help them lose weight instead of just eating more vegetables and less double bacon burgers goes to show how confused American’s really are when it comes to food.