Consumers’ views on being overweight are changing. Our latest report finds that there is greater acceptance of being overweight as a society than in the 1950s, when modern dieting culture began. Over the past 10 years, overweight and/or obese Americans have come to accept their weight status as defined by the CDC, which is a huge shift in self-awareness and in willingness to accept stigmatized terms like “obese” as personal labels. When individuals accept that they have an issue like obesity, it can form a platform for actual behavioral change.
America continues to be a nation of overweight — and obese — consumers. More than six in 10 (63%) American adults are overweight (31% are overweight; 32% are obese). Compared to when modern dieting culture began the 1950s, being “heavier” is now the social norm and much less stigmatized than in the past. Today’s new enemy for consumers is obesity, not merely being overweight.
While Americans increasingly see themselves as responsible for their own weight — almost nine in 10 consumers (88%) agree with the statement “I am personally responsible for choosing the right foods, not manufacturers” (an increase of five percentage points from 2010) — the belief in the role of genetic predisposition is significant and growing as well. More than one-third of consumers (38%) say that genetics is behind their current weight — an increase of 8% from 2010.
While it may be more socially acceptable to be overweight, consumers realize it is a serious health issue that requires personal action, and they are beginning to connect the dots between eating behaviors and personal health. In fact, over half of America’s consumers (56%) say they are trying to lose weight, according to our latest report, “Weight Management and Healthy Living 2015,” which examines what healthy eating and its relationship with weight management means to CPG food and beverage companies, retailers, food service, restaurants and marketers.
Interestingly, optimizing one’s health, especially as one ages, is a primary driver of weight-management behavior. As a result, we have evolved from a weight-management culture of purely crash dieting to a culture more open to permanent dietary alterations along with a set of lifelong healthy guardrails.
“Weight Management & Healthy Living,” which delves into the complex intersection of healthy eating behaviors and consumers’ aspirations to maintain healthy weight levels, finds that consumers continue to see themselves as primarily responsible for their own weight and are more holistic in approaches to managing weight. More than eight in 10 consumers (85%) say they are solely responsible for their own weight.
We’re in a new era of obesity understanding and weight management methods.
Weight management is increasingly not as much about short-term efforts as it is about permanent dietary alterations. A substantial minority of consumers currently eliminate one or more categories from their diet to manage their weight. Elimination is a tactic with growing appeal because it is easy to know if you’ve done it (unlike portion control) and the results can often be dramatic.
The newer approach to weight loss through more permanent dietary alterations is accelerating consumer discussion of the undesirable nature of “processed foods” in general, which will increasingly challenge companies whose portfolios are weighted to these kinds of foods.
As CEO of The Hartman Group, Laurie drives the vision, strategy, operations and results-oriented culture for the company’s associates as The Hartman Group furthers its offerings of tactical thinking, consumer and market intelligence, cultural competency and innovative intellectual capital to a global marketplace.
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