The U.S. weight loss market reached a record $78 billion in 2019, but suffered a 21% decline in value during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. However, there were bright spots. Commercial chains held up well, as did the meal replacements market, frozen diet entrees, and multi-level marketing channels.
Health clubs and most medical weight loss programs were hit the hardest, with contractions of 37% and 27%, respectively. Weight loss providers had to pivot to virtual client meetings and drop shipping of products. Technology became more important, as Zoom meetings, apps and streaming services soared in usage. Due to pend-up demand and consumer weight gain in 2020, most providers are looking for a strong rebound in 2021, as Americans are vaccinated and businesses reopen.
Do-it-yourself plans still abound as consumers use free diet & fitness apps. Many untapped niches still exist. This is a completely revised and updated analysis of the publisher's best-selling biennial study about the U.S. weight loss market. This is the most comprehensive investigation of the U.S. weight loss market published by anyone worldwide.
Covered: dollar value & growth rates of all major weight loss market segments (early 1980s to 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2025 forecasts), latest market trends and developments, status reports for:
- diet soft drinks;
- artificial sweeteners;
- health clubs;
- commercial diet center chains;
- multi-level marketing diet plans;
- retail meal replacements & diet pills;
- medical programs (weight loss surgery, MDs, hospitals/clinic programs, Rx diet drugs, bariatricians, VLCD programs);
- low-cal frozen entrees;
- and the diet books & exercise DVDs market.
New for this edition:
- Effects of the Pandemic on operations/revenues for all market segments
- How dieter behavior changed with the pandemic
- 2021 & 2025 Forecasts
- The most popular diets like Keto, intermittent fasting
- Leading competitor top management interviews
- How the 2021 diet season is shaping up
- Why MLM has gained as a distribution model
- Why meal replacements are still strong, but not retail diet pills
- Outlook for medical weight loss programs of all types, why they’ve lost momentum
32-year revenue analysis of the market through past recessions and fad diet cycles, comprehensive dieter demographics, weight loss center franchising, and extensive national/state commercial centers’ operating ratios. Rankings & revenues of top commercial chains, brand sales, and a Reference Directory.
Table of Contents
Introduction, Scope, Methodology
- Market definition and segments
- Status of the market and effects of the pandemic and recession
- Discussion of diet market’s major trends since 2019: shift from diet products to services, medical programs lose ground, consumer clean eating & high protein trend, performance in a recession,
- Outlook for new 2021 diet season, discussion of rise of MLM firms, DIY trends, company programs, competition from apps, advertising strategies
- Ranking of the top weight loss companies, by 2020 revenues
- Summary of major market and company developments of 2019-2020
- $ size of market and its 12 segments, forecasted 2021-2025 growth rates for segments
- Market Segment Outlooks for 2019-2020, 2025: commercial chains, diet soft drinks & artificial sweeteners, low-cal foods, meal replacements & appetite suppressants mkt., medical weight loss programs (hospitals & clinics, bariatric surgery, Rx diet drugs, VLCDs), diet books & DVDs market.
- Historical market revenues $ size, by segment: 1989-2020
- List of the top weight loss companies, by 2020 sales
- Revenues of top commercial chains: 2016-2025 F
- Diet soft drink sales: 1989-2025 F
- Revenues of health clubs industry: 1993-2025 F
- No. of bariatric surgeries in the U.S. - 1992-2025 F
- Value of meal replacements and OTC diet pills sales: 2005-2025 F
- Scope of the American obesity epidemic, number/percent obese or overweight, latest CDC data, obesity rates by state, recent dieter trends (shift to do-it-yourself methods during last recession), ranking of top diet programs by U.S. News & World Report - 2021
- Discussion: how many Americans diet, how often, why diets fail, methods used
- Dieter actions don’t match intentions: survey results, the January diet surge
- To healthy eating trends - predictions, top 10 diet types used by consumers
- Typical dieter profile, by age, sex, income - number of diet attempts per year
- Number of dieters by method used, no. of dieters by type plan
- Dieter profiles by: BMI, budget, starting weight, preferred diet program location, type food desired, previous diet plans used, readiness, exercise plan desired, % needing psychological support, % with special foods needs (BestDietForMe.com - 2005-2012 data)
- Analysis of current & historical dieting trends, 12-year shifts in dieting methods
- The Millennials Dilemma: Definition and no. of Millennials, characteristics and suggestions for how diet companies can reach them (income levels, jobs, preferences)
- Findings of Dieter Surveys/profiles by: Calorie Control Council, no. of U.S. dieters & low-cal food/beverage users, top dieting methods used, low-cal food/beverage usage by kind, diet attempts
- Table: State/regional obesity statistics: % of population: 2018
American Exercise Trends & The Health Clubs Industry
- Status Report of U.S. Health Clubs Industry - no. of facilities, type clubs, number of club members, recent trends, devastating effects of the pandemic, Industry receipts: 1993-2025 F, characteristics of club members, drop-out rates, members by type club, estd. share of clubs with diet programs. (IHRSA)
- ASCM’s top fitness trends for 2021
- 15 top participant sports -(NSGA), % chg. In participation
- Most popular women’s sports: types of exercise equipment, home exercise trends
- How women keep fit, most popular types of exercise equip. used, general trends in exercise, home exercise and gyms.
- Health clubs’ involvement with weight loss, % with programs, using clubs as weight loss method, samples/costs of typical diet programs offered by health clubs (Think Light plan).
- Reasons why health clubs’ weight loss programs fail, programs vary greatly in price & content-consultants’ analysis, private label wt. loss programs (A. Rothafel)
Commercial Weight Loss Chains
- Status Report: Effects of the pandemic, why commercial chains fared well, sales models Used by Medifast, NutriSystem, shift to virtual meetings by WW
- Outlook for 2021 diet “season”
- Summary & nature of competitors, discussion of all major developments since 2019 (no. of centers, avg. cost of major commercial plans vs. medical and self-help plans 2019-2020 segment performance, 2021 outlook, estd. revenues of leaders
- In-depth discussion of leaders’ strategies, move to wellness, Weight Watchers turnaround, success of Medifast, Profile by Sanford franchise, why competing medical programs lost ground in 2020, factors affecting 2021 diet season, program customization, latest hot diets
- Positive/negative factors affecting growth from 2019-2025.
- Franchising: status of, use as growth strategy, investment costs, profiles of Wt. Watchers, Jenny Craig franchises, why franchising may be less viable today.
- Discussion of the weight loss/fitness apps market, growth of Noom, Lifesum
- Avg. cost of popular diet programs
- No. of center locations, by company: 2010-2020
- Revenues of the leading commercial chains: 2003-2020
- Historical table of segment revenues/growth from 1989-2025 F
- Census Bureau snapshot of the industry: 2007, 2012, 2017 key ratios, stats
- Sample Income Statement of a typical commercial weight loss center
Industry Structure & Key Ratios
- 2017, 2012, 2007 - industry snapshots for commercial diet centers: no. of establishments, legal form of firms, top 50 firms mkt. share, ratios by firm’s receipts, top states
- Sample income statement for a typical commercial center: (expenses by type, profits)
- Avg. revenues per co.-owned/franchised center for Jenny Craig & LA Weight Loss
- Avg. costs to acquire new customers
- What commercial centers have in common, expansion of 1980s/contraction of 1990s 1982-88 diet franchise avg. revenues per unit, no. of centers/sites operated by top chains.
- Census Bureau Operating Ratios: 2017, 2012, 2007 (Commercial diet centers/services) (no. of estabs., firms, receipts, receipts per estab., payroll as % sales, etc.)
- Industry snapshot: no. of estabs., receipts, avg. per estab. & employee, payroll as % sales, etc.
- Employee sales/payroll productivity
- Establishments, by legal form (corporations, partnerships, sole proprietors)
- Market share for largest 4, 8, 20, 50 firms
- Ratios, by single vs. multi-unit firms
- Ratios, by receipts size of firms & establishments
- No. of diet centers, by state & region, avg. receipts per estab. By state
- 2018 no. of estabs. payroll, estd. receipts, by state, ranked (County Business Patterns)
- No. of U.S. weight control services (1991-2019)
- Number of commercial centers ( 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020 - top chains)
Company profiles: in-depth company history, current status, how programs work, costs, franchise systems, 2019-2020 revenues, new programs, strategies, address/website):
- Weight Watchers International
- Jenny Craig
- Metabolic Research Centers
- Profile by Sanford
- Quick Weight Loss Centers
The Diet Soft Drinks & Artificial Sweeteners & Diet Food Markets
- The Diet Soft Drinks Market
- Status Report 2020, why sales have improved lately, effect of the pandemic on consumption
- Diet soft drinks as % total soft drinks, mkt. nature and historical growth, forecasts, demographics of consumers, diet’s share of all carbonated soft drinks (Beverage Industry, Beverage Digest),
- Total soft drink retail $ sales, diet share of gallons/retail sales: 1989-2020, 2021-2025 forecast
- 1989-2025 F diet soft drink $ sales
- Table: Demographics of diet soft drink consumers, historical nature of the market.
The Artificial Sweeteners Market
- Status Report of the mkt., new high-intensity sweeteners emerging, Stevia, Sucralose, Splenda, consumer trend to avoid artificial ingredients, data from Calorie Control Council regarding use by consumers
- Sweeteners by end use (% for soft drinks vs. tabletop sweeteners mkt.)
- Description of major types (Aspartame, Neotame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Stevia, Acesulfame)
- Market size & growth, historical sales 1991-2020 performance, 2025 forecasts.
- Low-cal Frozen Diet Entrees & Low-carb Foods Market
- Mkt. Status Report, definition of “diet” foods, discussion of dinner entrees, the major brands, Consumers shift to frozen foods during the pandemic, actions by food industry to spur sales
- Actions taken by producers to revitalize sales, packaging, new formulations, etc.
- Mkt. size estimates for 1994 to 2025 F
- Outlook and sales estim. for 2020, $ volume for Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, Healthy Choice
- Low-carb foods - mkt. size estimates.
- Company Profile: Atkins Nutritionals
Retail Meal Replacements & Appetite Suppressants Market
- Definition/nature of meal replacements vs. over-the-counter (retail) diet pills, ingredients being used today, new herbal products: coffee bean extract, HCG drops
- History/nature of mkt.- cyclical shifts from mid-1980s
- User demographics: no. and % of dieters using diet pills and meal replacements (Consumer Reports
- 2020 Status Report of the market: why sales were strong during the pandemic, estd. channel sales (diet pills, meal replace.), findings of Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), Chain Drug Review research, top meal replacements brands sales
- Why growth outlook is strong for meal replacements, preferred by MDs, MLMs, commercial chains, why retail diet pills mkt. still struggles
- Regulatory actions, FTC fines marketers, effect/warning on touting “miracle” products for weight loss, Hyroxycut’s fall
- Discussion of traditional/nontraditional distribution channels
- Mkt. size/growth: true size of the mkt. - why estimates differ widely
- NBJ estimates of diet pill & meal replacements $ and % sales, by distribution channels, discussion of multilevel firms (Advocare, Shaklee, Herbalife, Quixtar, Nu-Skin)
- Estimates of growth for diet pills & meal replacements 2021-2025 F, demand factors.
- Discussion of the acquisition of Slim-Fast by Glanbia.
- Estimates of retail diet pills, meal replacements, combined sales - 1981-2025 F
- Discussion of 2019-2020 market performance, 2021 outlook, 2025 forecasts
- Top retail diet pill brand sales, 2011-2015
- Top MLM companies’ sales of meal replacements: 2020.
- Company profiles: Slim-Fast (Glanbia), Herbalife, Visalus Life Sciences, Isagenix, Shaklee, Advocare, AMWAY (Quixtar), Nu-Skin, USANA Health Sciences (estd. revenues, strategies, product lines, marketing)
Medically-Supervised Weight Loss Programs
- Hospital & Clinic Chains Weight Loss Programs
- Status Report: Effects of the pandemic on medical program operations and revenues: The pivot to digital delivery
- Types of plans offered (low-cost, moderate-cost plans, estd. no. of hospitals providing each, typical cost), Medicare coverage
- Interviews with management at HMR, Medi-Weightloss companies.
- Physician-based diet programs: diet drugs/other methods used, consumer attitudes, limitations, estd. no. MDs with a weight loss program - independents vs. affiliated with chains, meds used, typical cost of MD programs
- How Obamacare has provided a game-changing opportunity for MDs to add weight loss & counseling services via PAs, RDs, Nurses, why they haven’t embraced it yet
- Profiles of a hospital-based weight loss program: Johns Hopkins
- Major Medical Chains: Company Profiles
- Lindora Clinics, Centers for Medical Weight Loss, Smart for Life, Medi-Weightloss Clinics, Medical Weight Loss of Michigan, Nuviva, Dr. G’s, Let’s Lose, JumpstartMD, Ideal Protein (in-depth descriptions, plan costs, estimated revenues, no. of centers, franchising growth strategies).
- Tables: Avg. revenues per site, avg. plan cost to patient, avg. income statement, start-up
- Costs for top 8 medical weight loss chains/franchises/licensors.
Bariatrician (Obesity Medicine Specialists) Programs
- Status report of profession, OMA survey results (MDs by: age, income, size practice), how they’re trained, number practicing, certification by OMA, use of diet drugs, treatment methods used, plan effectiveness/cost, business is up due to more surgeries, less surgeries - opinions of industry consultant.
- Estimated $ value of the market for their programs
The Weight Loss (bariatric) Surgery Market
- Status Report: Effects of the pandemic on procedures performed, revenues
- Discussion of sleeve, gastric bypass, lapband procedures, status report & interview with ASMBS President, 2019 & 2020 estimated surgeries, 2025 forecasts, costs per surgery by type payor, pros/cons, who qualifies, effect of Obamacare on coverage by 25 state exchanges
- Surgery utilization and outcomes, mean cost per surgery
- Major insurers’ coverage today, status report, Medicare coverage, role of liaison firms (The Wish Centers, Barix Clinics, Liv-Lite, Journey Lite - addresses), avg. cost of surgery.
- Types of surgery: Roux-en-Y, lap banding, mini-gastric bypass, sleeve, consumer pros/cons
- Table: No. of bariatric surgeries performed: 1992-2020
- Table: $ value of the market: 1992-2025 F, outlook under Obamacare
- Associations: ASBS, Obesity Action Coalition, increased lobbying efforts.
- Table: $ value of the market, by type surgery: 2020
VLCD/LCD Fasting Supplement Programs
- Status report of low-calorie modified fasting programs in 2020, effects of the pandemic, outlook by mgmt. at HMR, demand from hospitals for turnkey programs characterizing the mkt. (price, programs, no. of sites, increased direct-to-customer sales)
- Historical nature of market - development from 1970s-1990s, enrollments, drop-out/completion rates, problem on insurance coverage, market indicators, positive/negative trends/factors
- Table: Estimates of VLCD enrollments for 1995-2020 (new vs. repeat patients, fasting vs. maintenance), $ value of mkt. for 1984-2025 F. Company Profiles: Detailed descriptions of companies/plans, program revenues: Health Management Resources, Optifast (Nestle), Robard
- Table: VLCD enrollments, $ mkt. value: Estimates: 2007-2020.
The Diet Drugs Market
- Discussion of viewing obesity as a disease, major obesity medications used today, FDA position, role of MDs, commercial chains’ involvement with diet drugs, why it’s tougher than thought to develop anti-obesity drugs that are effective and with minimal side effects.
- Status Report: strong sales of Saxenda (Novo Nordisk), bankruptcies of Orexigen and Vivus, Belviq taken off the mkt., FDA rejections of: Acomplia, Taranabant, other Rx diet drugs
- New obesity drugs in development to 2026: semaglutide
- Existing drugs used (Xenical, Phentermine) - descriptions
- Tables - prescriptions written and $ sales for: Meridia, Xenical, Phentermine, 12 other anti-obesity drugs (2003-2016)
- 2021 and 2025 outlooks for prescription diet drugs, effect of new drugs on mkt. size, discussion of this market’s potential vs. drawbacks, overcoming MD and consumer attitudes, side effects, effectiveness. Moderate weight loss not enough for most dieters.
The Diet Books & Exercise DVDs Market
- Diet books - nature of the mkt., new titles for 2019-2020 diet books, buyer demographics, what makes bestsellers, book buyer demographics, recent titles
- Exercise DVDs & streaming services mkt., summary, top names in the field, categories, top distributors, mkt. size, why DVDs sales are falling/competition from streaming services
- Estimates of combined diet books/exercise DVDs mkts. For 2019, 2020 Outlooks and rationale, popularity as DIY method.
- Table: $ sales of diet books & exercise DVDs: 1989-2025 F
- Company Profile: Beach Body
- Reference Directory of Weight Loss Information Sources
- Industry & government trade associations, journals, newsletters, magazines, consultants
- Atkins Nutritionals
- Centers for Medical Weight Loss
- Dr. G’s
- Ideal Protein
- Jenny Craig
- JumptStart MD
- Lindora Clinics
- Metabolic Research
- Profile by Sanford
- Smart For Life
- Weight Watchers