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WeightWatchers and Herbalife dominate the US weight management market

Matt Bodimeade

Revenues within the US weight management market grew 1.7% through 2012, to reach an industry value of $61.6 billion. By the end of 2013 this value has been estimated to increase by 2.6%.

Obesity has reached crisis levels in the United States. Almost 70% of adults and almost 32% of school-age children and adolescents are either overweight or obese, according to the latest government statistics. Between 1988 and 2008, the prevalence of obesity increased by 48% among adults and more than 72% among children and teenagers.

The causes of the increased prevalence of being overweight and obese are interconnected and complex. They include environment, psychological, cultural and socioeconomic factors as well as overeating, lack of exercise, slow metabolism, and genetic makeup.

In fact, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls American society "obesogenic" because it is characterised by environments that promote increased food intake, unhealthy foods, and a sedentary lifestyle.

America's estimated 108 million dieters -- about 82% of whom try to lose weight by themselves, are hunkering down. The new diet season, which starts January 1st and ends around Memorial Day, is off to a slow start this year.

First, none of the major diet companies has anything that compelling or radically new. Secondly, there is a very weak economy, high gas prices and rising payroll taxes. Bad winter weather and many snowstorms in the Midwest and Northeast didn't help weight loss centre attendance either. Celebrity endorsements can go only so far in this environment.

The weight management products market is comprised of foods, beverages, meal replacements, diet aids and commercial weight management programs.

Retail sales in the United States weight management products market is estimated to have hit a total of around $38 billion at the beginning of 2013, and is suggested to grow to $40.9 billion by 2016.

US weight management

Foods and beverages represent the largest share of sales, at almost 80%. Over the past five years, nonetheless, sales of weight management foods and beverages have been on a declining trend--despite, or maybe because of--the nation's continuing weight problem.

Total revenues generated by online dieting were estimated at $842 million in 2009; for example, the WeightWatchers website, which tops the list, has more than 1 million paid subscribers. The company's online revenue for 2010 was $238 million.

Herbalife, surprisingly, is now the number two weight loss company in the United States. The company posted North American weight loss product sales of $529 million in 2012, up 21%. Medifast sales reached a new high of $357 million last year and 65% of this was related to its Take Shape For Life MLM division.

For more information on the US weight management market, see the latest research: US Weight Management Market

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