Self Portrait Leaning Forward

Are Consumers Looking for Health in Weight Concerns?

The Mayo Clinic has surveyed a large number of consumers in their online diet assessment. From more than 200,000 individuals completing this survey of mindset and motivation, they’ve come to a simple and unsurprising conclusion. It’s all about health. In fact, 83 percent of people in this survey are motivated by health in seeking to lose weight. In their very specific sample, this was five times greater than the portion of consumers looking to improve their appearance.

So we wondered, how skewed is this sample that seeks out the Mayo Clinic for direction on diet and weight loss? Are consumers prioritizing health in their concerns about weight? Has the pandemic played a role?

As we dug a bit deeper, we found that the answer to both of these questions might be yes.

Long-Standing Gallup Surveys

Over the years, Gallup has been surveying Americans about their weight concerns. What we see is overall steadiness in the number of people who would like to lose weight. In 1951, that number stood at only 31 percent of American adults. By 1990, that number had risen to 52 percent. It rose as high as 60 percent in 2007. But in 2016, it settled into the mid fifties and stood stable at 55 percent for 2019 through 2021. It did not move one bit through the pandemic.

However, what did change as the pandemic swept across our lives was the portion of people seriously trying to lose weight. In the two years prior to the pandemic, 25 to 27 percent were engaged in losing weight. In late 2020, during the worst of the pandemic, it dropped to 23 percent. Then late last year it jumped back up to 27 percent.

So now it seems that people are as engaged as ever in seriously trying to lose weight.

Health Jumps on the Priority List

For a look at why people are trying to lose weight, we turn to the annual Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council. Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, the number one reason to adopt a new diet was simply to lose weight. Long-term health was a distant third among reasons cited. It was essentially tied with physical appearance as a motivator.

Now, in 2022, long-term health is the number one reason consumers cite for adopting a new diet, edging out weight loss. Appearance finishes fourth.

The truth is that different people have different reasons for concerns about their weight. And they overlap. But if you spend time talking in depth with consumers, it does seem that there is a heightened emphasis on health in concerns about weight and diet. Courtney McCormick is an RDN with an MPH who is Manager of Clinical Research and Nutrition at Nutrisystem. She tells us:

“I’m hearing a lot from consumers that they are interested in the impact of weight on their overall health – including their psychological well-being. As people have adjusted to COVID, it seems that this is an important motivator for healthy behaviors.”

Could this point to a healthier approach to concerns about nutrition and obesity? We can only hope so.

Click here for the press release from the Mayo Clinic, here for more on the Fook and Health Survey, and here for more Gallup data on personal weight.

Self Portrait Leaning Forward, etching by Rembrandt / WikiArt

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May 27, 2022

2 Responses to “Are Consumers Looking for Health in Weight Concerns?”

  1. May 27, 2022 at 9:35 am, David Brown said:

    In the Mayo Clinic survey of 209,269 dieters it was reported that “Over 55% of participants had dieted at least six times during their lifetime.”

    One wonders, why the low success rate? I say it is because the food supply is defective and public health dietary advice perpetuates the problem. An even bigger barrier is due to the myth-information (Information which is widely held to be true but which is in fact flawed or unsubstantiated) about dietary saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

  2. May 27, 2022 at 10:31 am, Angela Golden said:

    This is the best news to read! Obesity treatment should always be about improving health! I love it