What you need to know

The term “diet” has evolved over the years to mean different things to different people. This report identifies the behavior and attitudes American consumers have toward dieting, focusing on diet practice differences by age and gender. It also analyzes trends and innovations in diet foods and programs, and seeks to uncover the types of diets that resonate with consumers, as well as opportunities for marketers in the diet landscape. Knowing who to appropriately market diet products to can help players in this space selectively merchandise and reach their target consumers.

This report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Diet Trends – US, November 2012, as well as the May 2010, May 2008, and July 2006 reports of the same title.


For the purposes of this report, “diet” is defined as an eating or drinking regimen with the goal of losing weight. Mintel defines dieters as respondents who are trying to lose/maintain weight by dieting.

This report covers diet products that are used primarily for weight control (weight loss and weight management). MULO sales data for the following weight control products is included:

  • Select frozen meal brands (Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones)

  • Weight control tablets

  • Weight control powder/liquids

Value figures throughout this report are at rsp (retail selling prices) excluding sales tax unless otherwise stated.

Data sources

Sales data

  • Leading Companies and Brand Share: based on MULO sales data from Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan Reviews. MULO is defined as Multi Outlet, representative of the following channels: Total US Grocery, Mass, Total US Drug, Total Walmart, Dollar, Military, and Club.

Consumer survey data

For the purposes of this report, Mintel commissioned exclusive consumer research through Lightspeed GMI to explore consumer habits and attitudes toward dieting. Mintel was responsible for the survey design, data analysis, and reporting. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2014 among a sample of 2,000 adults aged 18+ with access to the internet.

Mintel selects survey respondents by gender, age, household income, and region so that they are proportionally representative of the US adult population using the internet. Mintel also slightly over-samples, relative to the population, respondents that are Hispanic or Black to ensure an adequate representation of these groups in our survey results and to allow for more precise parameter estimates from our reported findings. Please note that Mintel surveys are conducted online and in English only. Hispanics who are not online and/or do not speak English are not included in the survey results.

Mintel has also analyzed data from Experian Marketing Services, using the Simmons NCS (National Consumer Study) and the Simmons NHCS (National Hispanic Consumer Study).

The Experian Marketing Services, Simmons NHCS was carried out during January 2013-March 2014 and the results are based on the sample of 24,005 adults aged 18+, with results weighted to represent the US adult population. Additional data from Experian Marketing Services, winter 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 is included for February 2007-March 2008, February 2008-March 2009, February 2009-March 2010, February 2010-March 2011, January 2011-March 2012, January 2012-March 2013, and January 2013-March 2014.

While race and Hispanic origin are separate demographic characteristics, Mintel often compares them to each other. Please note that the responses for race (White, Black, Asian, Native American, or other race) will overlap those that also are Hispanic, because Hispanics can be of any race.

Abbreviations and terms


The following is a list of abbreviations used in this report.

ACA Affordable Care Act
AMA American Medical Association
BFY Better-for-you
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CPI Consumer Price Index
NCS/NHCS National Consumer Study/National Hispanic Consumer Study (Experian Marketing Services)
NHANES National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
QSR Quick service restaurant
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BMI BMI is an index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obese. BMI does not directly measure body fat. Generally accepted groupings for BMI classifications are:

Underweight: BMI <18.5

Healthy weight: BMI = 18.5-24.9

Overweight: BMI = 25-29.9

Obese: BMI = 30+

Within Mintel’s consumer survey, BMI calculations are based on a respondent’s self-reported height and weight, and therefore may differ from actual recorded values. Mintel classifies respondents into three BMI categories, combining underweight and healthy weight respondents into one group for analysis purposes.

Generations, if discussed within this report, are defined as:

World War II/Swing generations Members of the WWII generation were born in 1932 or before and are aged 82 or older in 2014. Members of the Swing Generation were born from 1933-1945 and are aged 69-81 in 2014.
Baby Boomers The generation born between 1946 and 1964. In 2014, Baby Boomers are between the ages of 50 and 68.
Generation X The generation born between 1965 and 1976. In 2014, Gen Xers are between the ages of 38 and 49.
Millennials* Born between 1977 and 1994, Millennials are aged 20-37 in 2014.
iGeneration Born between 1995 and 2007, members of iGen are aged 7-19 in 2014
Emerging generation The newest generation began in 2008 as the annual number of births declined sharply with the recession. In 2014 members of this as-yet-unnamed generation are younger than 7.

* also known as Generation Y or Echo Boomers

In order to provide an inflation-adjusted price value for markets, Mintel uses the CPI to deflate current prices. The CPI is defined as follows:

CPI The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

The CPI and its components are typically used to adjust other economic series for price changes and to translate these series into inflation-free dollars. Examples of series adjusted by the CPI include retail sales, hourly and weekly earnings, and components of the national income and product accounts. In addition, and in Mintel reports, the CPI is used as a deflator of the value of the consumer’s dollar to find its purchasing power. The purchasing power of the consumer’s dollar measures the change in the value to the consumer of goods and services that a dollar will buy at different dates.

The CPI is generally the best measure for adjusting payments to consumers when the intent is to allow consumers to purchase, at today’s prices, a market basket of goods and services equivalent to one that they could purchase in an earlier period. It is also the best measure to use to translate retail sales into real or inflation-free dollars.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics definition.
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