SANTA ANA, Calif. – Among the top consumer health trends expected to make headlines in 2012 is the rise of Flexitarians — people who reduce their meat intake for health reasons but still occasionally consume animal protein, according to a leading national research group studying health-related attitudes and behavior in America.
Observational studies were used by The Values Institute at DGWB, a social science research entity based in Santa Ana, Calif., to identify five health and wellness trends Americans are most likely to embrace in 2012.
The top-five consumer health trends for 2012 are:
1. The recent surge in the popularity of liquid energy shots like Red Bull, Monster and 5-Hour Energy should continue. These products are becoming more popular with seniors and are far beyond a Millennial-only trend, as witnessed by 5-Hour's partnership with actor John Ratzenberger of “Cheers” fame. However, there is a potential for a backlash as health-seeking consumers look for the same boost from 100 percent natural sources with familiar ingredients, such as green tea extract, vitamins, whole grains, raw foods like bananas and dates plus specifically designed products like Jamba Juice and V8 Energy Shots.
2. Just as fitness and diet were to the 1980s and 1990s, enhancing sleep may be to this decade. More consumers are expected to connect health and sleep in 2012 as they discover new evidence linking inadequate sleep with weight gain, high blood pressure, depression and lowered immunity. Most Americans (76 percent) want to improve their quantity and quality of the sleep; two-thirds of all women have regular sleep problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And the World Association of Sleep Medicine claims sleep deprivation affects the quality of life of 45 percent of the world's population.
3. Although the US vegetarian/vegan population will remain small, more consumers are expected to become "Flexitarians," people who reduce their meat intake for health reasons but still occasionally enjoy animal protein, in 2012. One example of this trend is the growing popularity and social media following of the Meatless Monday initiative, developed in association with John Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health.
4. Americans often lack the motivation and accountability to make exercise a part of their regular routine, even though they realize they need it. New social-media platforms offer this encouragement digitally. For example, Stikk.com empowers consumers to create Commitment Contracts to lose weight, exercise regularly or quit smoking.
5. The DIY (do it yourself) health movement that started as a backlash to high medical costs and impersonal service will continue to surface in 2012 as smartphone applications enabling consumers to monitor their health anytime they desire gain in popularity.