End of the Season

Will 2024 Mark the End of “Diet Season?”

It is beginning to seem like an anachronism. January has long marked the beginning of “diet season.” Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Atkins, and many other businesses depend on this annual weight loss ritual to rack up their biggest sales of the year. Diet resolutions typically stick for only a few months, though.

Some time ago, dieting became a bit of a dirty word. But nonetheless, these behavior patterns kept persisting. New diets grabbed public attention and popular culture pushed it. Until now.

It seems that 2024 might mark the end of diet season. Or at the very least, the beginning of its end. U.S. News rolled out its “Best Diets” rankings this week, and the public response has been something of a yawn.

Persistent Interest in Weight Loss

Declining Interest in DietsMake no mistake though, public interest in losing weight has not waned. A quick look at Google Trends offers an indication of this. Over the last 20 years interest in diets, as indicated by relative search volume, has declined. The same is not true for weight loss. Search volume for that has risen or stayed steady over the same time horizon.

If you look specifically at the diet with the highest search volume, the ketogenic diet, interest has steadily dropped since 2022. No other pop diet has replaced it. This year’s hot topic, Ozempic, has started surpassing it in the last 30 days.

Wishful Thinking

Wishful thinking still has the public in search of short-term weight loss. But it seems that growing numbers of people are waking up to the fact that short-term and faddish diets don’t offer satisfying results.

The interest in obesity medicines like semaglutide is a bit of a double-edged sword. The downside is that many or most people are only thinking in terms of short-term weight loss when they seek this out.

But the upside is that at the margin, some people are finally looking through a more realistic lens. If they seek out competent care for obesity, they will connect with professionals who orient them toward long-term approaches that will be more sustainable than the faddish diets of diet seasons now past.

Even Weight Watchers is talking about “Weight Health” instead of just weight loss. If you listen carefully, you will hear messaging consistent with a medical approach to obesity more often.

This is our wishful thinking for “diet season.” We hope that the world is moving in this direction.

Click here for the U.S. News best diets list. For further perspective on what people are searching for, click here. For insight on the limitations of diets to reverse obesity, click here.

End of the Season, painting by William Merritt Chase / WikiArt

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January 4, 2024

One Response to “Will 2024 Mark the End of “Diet Season?””

  1. January 05, 2024 at 9:37 am, Mary-Jo said:

    It’s good news if interest is declining in faddish quick weight loss diets. I hope this paves the way for people seeking more help from RDs. Good RDs work with people who want to improve their body health and find ways to shop for, prepare, cook, and eat foods and meals they enjoy while delivering optimal nutrition for a person’s individual needs, keeping in mind any disease they may have, medications they may be on including weight loss meds, allergies, intolerances, budget, likes and dislikes, occupational circumstances, etc. This is what we do. Weight health is just one aspect of dietary and body health, but a really important one. I also hope that 2024 brings more insurance coverage for the services of RDs as part of the multidisciplinary team needed to optimize weight(fat) loss and improve body health and fitness.