Consumers ditching diet products

by Rebekah Schouten
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Counting calories
Fifty percent of US consumers who have managed their weight by diet have counted calories, making it the No. 1 dieting method.

LONDON – Despite the dieting trend associated with New Year’s resolutions, diet products are falling out of favor with consumers. Ninety-one percent of US consumers said they believe eating a well-rounded diet is better than using diet products, according to research from Mintel.

Most consumers are actually diet doubters, Mintel said, as 77 percent of US consumers said they agree that diet products are not as healthy as they claim to be, and 61 percent said they believe most diets are not even healthy. 

Marissa Gilbert, Mintel
Marissa Gilbert, health and wellness analyst at Mintel

“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,” said Marissa Gilbert, health and wellness analyst at Mintel. “The diet industry faces downward pressure as US 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.”

Despite the skepticism, 55 percent of US consumers said they are trying to lose, maintain or gain weight through diet, Mintel said. Forty-four percent of women aged 18-34 are most likely to try to lose weight by dieting compared to an average of 32 percent of all Americans.

Instead of depending on diet products, consumers are turning to calorie restriction for weight management. Fifty percent of US consumers who have managed their weight by diet have counted calories, making it the No. 1 dieting method. The second most popular method, representing 24 percent of consumers, is the use of meal replacement shakes and bars, followed by 19 percent using a vegetarian and vegan diet, 18 percent relying on a high protein diet, 17 percent turning to a nutrition-based diet, and another 17 percent using a diet application on a mobile device.

“Calorie restricting is a traditional method for losing weight and something consumers turn to without additional costs or resources,” Gilbert said. “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.”

Even when counting calories, consumers still want to indulge every now and then. Eighty percent said they try to eat healthy, but some goods are too tempting. Eighty-four percent of Americans said they believe it is important to treat themselves to their favorite foods, according to Mintel.

“Most Americans don’t want to feel deprived while dieting, and despite good intentions, indulgent choices are tempting,” Gilbert said. “However, many believe dieting is worth the effort in order to achieve their ideal weight.”

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