Diet Industry Now Worth $60.9 Billion

Check out this article from PR Web.  It is discussing a study that breaks down the money involved in the diet industry, which is now worth a whopping 60.9 BILLION dollars!  The article discusses that apparently “80% of dieters now do it themselves”, yet the diet company’s still seem to be doing just fine, as “Sales of all commercial weight loss chains grew about 2% in 2010…Adding revenues for all other small local commercial weight loss centers, this segment is forecast to be worth $ 3.14 billion.”  Probably because “The typical American dieter now makes 4 weight loss attempts per year—the highest number in 15 years.”  Basing your business on something that people want/think they need to do, yet fail  at 95% of the time is a pretty lucrative strategy.

One phrase from the report made me laugh as it states that” drug companies and the medical community are realizing that developing an effective diet drug with no significant side effects is more difficult than they thought.”  (emphasis mine)  Maybe someday  regulators will realize that the side effects of dieting and diet pills are actually way worse than the supposed “effects of obesity” and this market will dry up?  We can hope!

Until then, it’s pretty obvious that body image and the diet industry have a LOT to do with capitalism.

Report’s Major Findings:

  •     Market Value… Marketdata estimates that the total U.S. weight loss market grew less than 1% in 2010, as most market segments were flat or marginally up. Revenues were $60.9 billion in 2010, and $60.4 billion in 2009, (up 3.2% from $58.6 billion in 2008).

  •     Frugal Dieters… 2009 – 2010 were the years of the “value diet” and the frugal dieter. Dieters shifted toward greater use of free and low-cost do-it-yourself diet plans, (diet websites, OTC diet pills, meal replacements and diet books). Marketdata finds that the share of dieters that prefer a self-directed program was 80% during 2010— near the highest ever. Typically, 70% of dieters use a self-directed plan, but this share was even higher due to the recession.

  •     Commercial weight loss chains… Sales of all commercial weight loss chains grew about 2% in 2010. Marketdata analysts estimate 3.3% growth for the top eight commercial chains, to $2.73 billion in 2010. Adding revenues for all other small local commercial weight loss centers, this segment is forecast to be worth $ 3.14 billion. Weight Watchers came out as the big winner for late 2010/early 2011.

  •     Diet Drugs… No blockbusters yet. 2009-2010 proved tough for this market, as the FDA denied approval for Lorcaserin, Qnexa, and Contrave, following on the heels of the 2008 rejection of Taranabant and Acomplia.There is still plenty of R&D taking place, but drug companies and the medical community are realizing that developing an effective diet drug with no significant side effects is more difficult than they thought.

  •     Retail Diet Pills & Meal Replacements… The bad economy and tighter consumer weight loss budgets should have helped this “do-it-yourself” category. However, one of the top-selling brands, Hydroxycut, was taken off the market by a more active FDA. Meal replacements and MLM channels are currently holding up best. Dieters are attracted by the low price and easy availability. Marketdata estimates that the combined sales of diet pills and meal replacements was down about 2% to $2.69 billion last year. To 2014, Marketdata forecasts 3.3% annual gains in sales of meal replacements and OTC diet pills sales. By 2014, the combined market should be worth $3.04 billion.

  •     Medical Programs… Of the 4,900 U.S. community hospitals, approximately 60% offer some form of weight loss program. However, medical clinic chains are where the recent growth has taken place, One of the biggest recent success stories in the medically supervised programs segment is The Centers for Medical Weight Loss, which has grown from 60 centers in 2007 to more than 450 currently. Medi-Weightloss has also displayed strong growth via franchising.

  •     Dieter Trends… The typical American dieter now makes 4 weight loss attempts per year—the highest number in 15 years. 80% want an inexpensive, low-cost, home-based plan. Low-carb is making a comeback, with The Dukan Diet and 17-Day Diet books recently released.

  •     Diet Websites… Online dieting was estimated to be an $842 million market in 2009 – down a sharp 17%. But, revenues are recovering and we expect 8% yearly growth to 2014. Most sites are not profitable and are moving to a user-free, ad-supported model. WeightWatchers.com is #1, with 1+ million paid subscribers and 2010 revenue of $238 million.

  •     Diet Food Home Delivery Services…. This is a $924 million sub-segment of the weight loss market that, aside from NutriSystem, seems to have held up well. NutriSystem captures 55% of sales, but smaller firms are growing faster by serving an affluent, or health conscious client with fresh or frozen gourmet food.

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