Spending on weight loss products climbs; Texans like candy, meal replacements

U.S. sales of diet and weight loss products and services this year are expected to top $38 billion and pass $40 billion by 2016, a new report shows.

The report, issued Monday by Packaged Facts, a research firm, focuses on what consumers are willing to spend in the battle of the bulge.

It estimates that U.S. spending on weight loss items including food and drinks, meal replacements, diet aids and commercial weight management programs will gain 3 percent from the $36.9 billion last year.

By 2016 the figure is expected to top $40 billion — a gain of more than 14 percent over the 2008 tally.

And that’s not necessarily a good thing, said Todd Whitthorne, president and chief executive of the Cooper Wellness division of Cooper Aerobics.

“That number going up and up doesn’t excite me because it means fewer people are willing to do what’s necessary to be successful if you define success by weight,” he said. “Losing weight and keeping it off is hard. You have to consume fewer calories than you burn.

“So it does sadden me that that number will go up and up, but the fact is there is no magic bullet.”

Amity Smith Mattei, medical director at three Dallas-Fort Worth Medi-Weightloss Clinics, said she sees the spending as an investment.

“It you look at the cost of preventing chronic disorders vs. the cost of weight loss [products and services], it’s worth the investment,” she said.

Of the billions spent on weight loss products, foods and beverages represent the largest share of sales, at almost 80 percent, according to the report, “Weight Management Trends in the U.S.”

In Texas, one of 12 U.S. states where more than 30 percent of the adult population is classified as obese, consumers are 20 percent more likely than Americans overall to buy meal replacement diet products, and 17 percent more likely to buy diet candy.

Conversely, they are significantly less likely than average to buy Weight Watchers products.

The report, which also looked at behavior, showed that Texans are 10 percent less likely than Americans overall to be watching their diet to lose weight. Texas falls in line with national norms in terms of adults watching their diet to maintain a certain weight, the report showed.

Almost 70 percent of adults and almost 32 percent of school-age children and adolescents in the U.S. are either overweight or obese, according to government data.

Whitthorne said that more than 18 percent of 4-year-olds are now classified as obese.

Critics blame the fast food and soft drink industries, in part, for serving up high-calorie, high-fat items.

The food and drink industries counter that the causes are complex and are influenced by environmental, psychological, cultural and socioeconomic factors as well as overeating, poor food choices, lack of exercise, slow metabolism and genetic makeup.

The focus on food and drink has lead some companies, including Plano-based Dr Pepper Snapple and Frito-Lay, to offer more lower-calorie options such as Dr Pepper Ten and Baked Lay’s potato chips.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s