Weight Loss Products:

Published - Jun 2000| Analyst - Dorothy Kroll| Code - FOD027A
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Report Highlights

  • The increasing awareness of overweight consumers to become dieters as a means of promoting good health and avoid health risks linked with obesity will fuel growth of weight loss products. BCC forecasts that total sales for weight loss supplements, foods, and beverages will increase from $19.1 billion in 1999 to $23.8 billion in 2004, at the rate of 4.5% per year. Most of these products are available in any type of retailing outlet, including retailers - so dieters find product selection easy and convenient.
  • BCC estimates that the sales for total foods and beverages to aid weight loss will have the larger share (76%) of sales, but faster growth is projected for supplements. Sales for foods and beverages will increase from $14.5 billion in 1999 to $17.4 billion in 2004, at the rate of 3.7%. Dieters, like any type of consumer, would be more familiar with foods and beverages than with supplements, which are used by only a certain segment of the population.
  • For weight loss supplements, BCC forecasts that sales will increase from $4.6 billion in 1999 to $6.3 billion in 2004, at the rate of 6.7% per year.


The problem of obesity in America is being called an epidemic by some health-care professionals and government officials. With an estimated 40 million people classified as obese, about $240 billion per year is spent for the treatment of obesity-related conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure. Yet, each year an estimated 27% to 30% of the population is said to be on some type of self-designed weight loss plan, either for health or cosmetic reasons. These dieters seek to achieve weight loss goals with the use of certain over-the-counter (OTC) weight loss dietary supplements and certain types of foods and beverages (nonalcoholic).

The weight loss products industry does not constitute a single, unified industry. Rather, this report deals with just two distinct industries that market two very different types of weight loss products. The supplements industry markets individual or multi-supplements that aid weight loss with the use of specific ingredients (e.g., herbs, minerals, amino acids) that burn fat or suppress appetite. Individual supplements contain just a single weight loss ingredient, while multi-supplements contain combinations of weight loss ingredients. Either type can also contain healthful, but non weight loss ingredients, such as vitamins or minerals. Foods and beverages to aid weight loss are marketed as diet/weight loss foods/beverages that have reduced amounts of fat and sugar for lower caloric content; functional foods (chewing gum and bars) and beverages (sports/energy, herbal, and fruit drinks) contain specific weight loss ingredients to burn fat or suppress appetite; and meal replacement supplements, such as foods/bars, and ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage powders that contain balanced nutrition, are meant to replace one or two meals.

The goal of this report is to understand how marketers in these two different segments of the weight loss industry can satisfy the needs of dieters by developing products that help them to achieve weight loss goals.


The report was designed to achieve the following objectives:

  • To learn how media messages influence consumer attitudes about the link between obesity and health that will, in turn, influence overweight/obese consumers to become dieters and choose certain weight loss products;
  • To describe the various individual and multi-supplements that aid weight loss, the ingredients they contain and what they do, and show how producers market them in order to differentiate these supplements in the marketplace;
  • To describe the various foods and beverages that aid weight loss, the ingredients they contain or ingredients that are removed/reduced, and show how producers market these foods and beverages on a competitive basis;
  • To discuss the regulatory and technological environments in which marketers of weight loss supplements, foods, and beverages must operate; and
  • To show the most active marketers participating in the weight loss supplements, foods, and beverages segments.


BCC seeks to provide insight into one key question: With what weight loss supplements, foods, and beverages can marketers best satisfy the weight loss needs and desires of dieters? The report:

  • suggests how media messages concerning the harmful effects of obesity on health influence attitudes about weight loss, and how these messages about specific types of weight loss products can help dieters reduce health risks;
  • analyzes each type of individual and multi weight loss supplement in terms of the ingredients they contain and how they aid weight loss, and suggests why dieters choose them;
  • discusses each type of food and beverage in terms of the ingredients they contain (or lack) and how they aid weight loss, and suggests why dieters choose them instead of conventional foods and beverages;
  • discusses the various regulatory and technological factors that affect the two different weight loss industry segments, and how they can spur or hinder sales growth; and
  • presents the most active marketers for weight loss supplements, foods, and beverages, and shows how each segment tends to have its own participants.


This report was confined to examining only three segments of the weight loss products industry: supplements, foods, and beverages. Selection of these products was according to how they were promoted on product labels or in literature, and/or descriptors defined by law. Thus, such terms as diet, weight loss, weight control, meal replacement, burn fat, and suppress appetite allowed inclusion in a weight loss product category.

Each segment of the weight loss product industry is described in a separate chapter, beginning with types and purposes of the products based on the various ingredients they contain, possible risks and dangers, research studies, market influences on consumers as dieters, driving forces that particularly influence the industry (such as regulations and technology), most active marketers, and the industry environment in which each marketers in each segment works.


Within each chapter, there are BCC sales estimates and projections for each type of weight loss product. Sales estimates and projections were developed from an examination of the various consumer, social, health, market, economic, regulatory, and technological factors exerted on both dieters and marketers of weight loss products.

BCC first conducted an extensive review of the secondary literature with materials gathered from print and electronic sources: trade journals and magazines, trade and professional associations, government and industry sources, product literature, and company materials. The literature review was then followed up with some 100 telephone interviews with personnel in sales, marketing, technical, research and development, administration, customer service, and consumer affairs.


Neither the author nor BCC assume any responsibility for the information in this report or for its use. All material in the report is intended to be as reliable as possible and was gathered, analyzed and presented in a professional manner. However, the viewpoints, estimates and conclusions presented here are entirely our own, and much of the information developed and presented is of a speculative nature. No reader or firm should make or other plans based on the information in this report, and the author assumes no liability for any loss or damage which may result from reliance on any materials or information developed and presented in this report. This report is not a legal or accounting document, nor is it an endorsement of any material, product, or process.

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