Traditional weight loss tactics losing ground

by Monica Watrous
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ROCKVILLE, Md. — Consumers seeking to shed a few lbs. may be tossing out the old rule book in favor of a more flexible approach. Conventional tactics for weight loss are losing ground among the 100 million Americans dieting to lose or maintain weight, according to market researcher Packaged Facts.

Consumers are ditching formal diet plans and using mobile platforms to privately monitor fitness and food intake. Additionally, shoppers are buying fewer reduced-fat foods. Between 2009 and 2014, the percentage of individuals trying to lose weight by eating low-fat or fat-free foods dropped from 58 percent to 49 percent, and the percentage of those maintaining weight by eating these types of products decreased from 54 percent to 49 percent, according to Packaged Facts.

Weight-conscious consumers are buying a wider variety of products instead, including dry mix and prepared salad dressings, mayonnaise, American cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, pancake syrup, margarine, non-dairy cream substitutes, ice cream, potato chips, snack cakes and puddings.

Packaged Facts also noted a shift from weight-loss plans to weight-maintenance plans. Although the number of people who are 30 or more lbs. overweight and on a weight-loss diet has grown from 16 million to nearly 18 million over the past five years, according to Simmons National Consumer Study data, those who are not significantly overweight would rather avoid weight gain than struggle to slim down. The number of weight maintainers increased 12.8 percent between 2009 and 2014, nearly twice as fast as the growth in the population of those trying to lose weight, Packaged Facts said.

Driving the shift from weight loss to weight maintenance is a growing number of men interested in sustaining a healthier shape. Men have accounted for two-thirds of the growth in the population of maintainers over the past five years, Packaged Facts said. Another factor may be a decrease in cultural bias against being a few lbs. heavy.

“In the end, since health considerations are the main purpose of the weight management efforts of a majority of people, the unachievable quest to drop a few more ‘vanity lbs.’ in order to achieve an idealized body image may be on its way out as a cultural reference point,” Packaged Facts said.
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