NPD: Dieting At An All-Time Low

While 60% of adults say they'd like to lose 20 pounds, dieting in America is at an all-time low, according to The NPD Group's "Eating Patterns in America" report. Those who are on a diet are more likely to be on diets of their own making rather than following diets prescribed by physicians or by diet food marketers.

Marketers of diet plans have their work cut out for them, but Weight Watchers appears to be closing in on the two groups who don't subscribe to plans. After "My own diet" and "A doctor-recommended diet," it is No. 3 in the list of Top 10 diets, NPD's research found.

"That's not a bad place to be, close to what doctors recommend," said a spokesperson for Weight Watchers. Just after the Christmas holiday, the company launched a new TV ad in order to appeal to a more diverse range of people. The new ad, with the tagline, "Be an 'after,' stay an 'after,' shows young women, giving testimonials about their weight loss through the program. "They aren't your mother's Weight Watchers member," said the company spokesperson.



Still, those mothers--and fathers--make up the Baby Boomers entering the peak diet years, 55 to 64. And they are less likely than their parents and grandparents were to be following doctors' orders.

"It is not unusual for this Baby Boomer generation to set their own rules as to how they deal with dieting issues," said Harry Balzer, vice president of NPD. "This is a time in life where health issues begin to creep into our lives and in the past, doctors provided advice that was followed on changing eating habits. It appears people in this age group today are either not getting--or not listening to--their doctors' advice."

NPD found that the percentage of adults on a diet is at its lowest level since 1990, when 35% of women and 26% of men were dieting. Last year, those levels dropped to 26% of women and 19% of men. Of adults ages 55 to 64 who are dieting, NPD found that the percentage among women following a supervised plan was down 10 points and among men, the percentage dropped 15 points.

"Eating Patterns in America" tracks the daily consumption habits of hundreds of thousands of Americans. The report compiles data collected from more than 40 research efforts conducted by NPD, collecting information from consumers, manufacturers, and retailers.

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