Dieting on the decline

by Monica Watrous
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Woman on diet with not much to eat on her plate
Dieting has been on the decline over the past decade.

CHICAGO — The number of consumers counting calories has decreased, according to a recent report from The NPD Group, Chicago. Today’s health-conscious shoppers are more likely to seek items with minimal processing and no artificial ingredients.

Dieting has been on the decline over the past decade, said NPD, which revealed 22% of consumers in recent years reported being on a diet and 32% of consumers claimed to have never been on a diet. The remaining percentage said they have tried dieting for varying lengths of time. Consumers are ditching the diet mentality in favor of healthy, balanced lifestyles, according to NPD.

In addition to pursuing food products perceived as natural, consumers also are eating fresher fare found on the perimeter of grocery stores. Consumer interest in natural, fresh foods is expected to increase over the next few years, NPD said.

Lean Cuisine Marketplace frozen meals
Nestle recently unveiled a reboot of its Lean Cuisine brand, shifting its focus from diet to more chef-inspired, ethnic dishes that are high in protein and free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

“This may not come as the best news for the dieting industry but consumers are looking for authenticity and simplicity as part of a healthy lifestyle, which, to them, has more ‘staying power’ than diets or fads,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for NPD. “To ensure future growth, food marketers will need to make sure to promote the fresh or natural elements of products to reflect consumer need for authenticity.”

Several companies have reacted to a declining interest in traditional dieting by restaging brands to reflect consumers’ new perceptions of health. Nestle USA, for example, recently unveiled a reboot of its Lean Cuisine brand, shifting its focus from diet to more chef-inspired, ethnic dishes that are high in protein and free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Kellogg Co.’s Special K and ConAgra Foods’ Healthy Choice brands similarly have been repositioned in response to a broader consumer shift from weight management to wellness.
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