Each generation is shaped by different influences, cultural norms, and technological advances. So when it comes to weight loss and dieting, each generation has its own unique perspective and preferences. Understanding weight loss trends by generation can be valuable for wellness brands looking to market their products and services to specific age groups.
Weight Loss Market Trends
With millions of social posts under the weight loss hashtag in 2022 alone, weight loss and dieting remain top of mind for many consumers. Although some parts of the weight loss market were hit hard in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, revenue has since rebounded.
The rise of the wellness movement contributed to an increased understanding of the benefits of a healthy diet and proper nutrition. This has fueled demand for weight loss products, such as meal replacement shakes and protein bars, as well as supplements like vitamins and probiotics. Despite the increasing costs of living and declining consumer spending power, interest in wellness is expected to continue expanding the weight loss industry over the next decade.
Across generations, consumers are becoming more health-conscious. Today’s weight loss trends include adopting meal replacements and physical activities to keep themselves fit and healthy. As a result, the global weight loss market is expected to surpass $600 billion by 2027 with North America accounting for over a third of market revenue. Manufacturers are responding to this boom in consumer interest with product innovations such as functional ingredients, original flavor combinations, and ready-to-drink beverages.
One weight loss trend that has been gaining momentum in recent years is the focus on holistic health. More and more people are recognizing that weight loss is not just about counting calories or following a strict diet. Rather, people are taking a holistic approach including healthy eating, exercise, and stress management. This has led to an increase in the popularity of programs and plans that focus on overall health and wellness, such as the Mediterranean Diet, which emphasizes whole foods and moderate portions.
Another weight loss trend on the rise is the focus on sustainable weight loss. Many people are looking for ways to lose weight that are not only effective but also sustainable in the long term. This has led to an increase in the popularity of diets that are easy to maintain and incorporate into daily life, such as the Flexitarian Diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods but allows for some animal products.
Weight Loss by Generation
Data from our Evergi Consumer Wellness survey reveals that more than half of surveyed consumers are trying to lose weight. Additionally, the majority of consumers attempting to lose weight (70%) are following specific diets, such as Keto, Whole 30, and intermittent fasting. As people become increasingly aware of the impact specific diets have on their weight loss goals, more personalized marketing efforts can help brands effectively reach consumers of all generations.
Baby Boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964, tend to approach weight loss and dieting differently than other generations. Only 46% of Baby Boomers are trying to lose weight —the lowest percentage among all generations (excluding the Silent generation). However, of those who are trying to lose weight, 55% of them are following some sort of diet. Unlike other generations, they are less interested in trendy high-protein, gluten-free, and vegan diets.
While Baby Boomers are more likely to turn to traditional diets, they also prefer low-sugar and low-sodium diets. With 61% of Baby Boomers regularly using multivitamins, probiotics, and other supplements, they are also more likely to use vitamins and supplements than other generations. Additionally, the gender balance of Baby Boomers looking to lose weight strongly skews female, with 61% of them being women.
With 53% of Gen Xers reporting that they are trying to lose weight, the group's weight loss attitudes tend to fall somewhere in between those of Baby Boomers and Millennials. Of those trying to lose weight, 71% follow a specific diet. Gen X'ers also over-index for more traditional low-carb and low-sugar diets.
Recent data found that Gen X-ers rated fiber (88%) and whole grains (80%) as the healthiest, followed by plant-based proteins (76%) and omega-3 fatty acids (71%). Gen Xers are also more likely to use gummies, drink mixes, and ready to drink beverages than the general population. They agree that convenient foods help them eat healthier and believe meal kits and subscription boxes are worth it. Like Baby Boomers before them, the gender balance of Gen Xers who are trying to lose weight also skews female at 56.5%.
At 57%, millennials are the most likely of all the generations to say that they’re trying to lose weight. Of those trying to lose weight, a whopping 80% are following a specific diet to achieve their weight loss goals. Millennials are also likely to be interested in plant-based diets and over-index for vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian diets. Typically the first to try new diets, they are more likely to be interested in newer diets like intermittent fasting, gluten-free, Keto, Whole 30 & Paleo.
Although they agree that healthy food is expensive, millennials believe that convenient foods make it easier to be healthy. This generation is less likely to use vitamins and supplements and more likely to consume protein powders and meal replacement products than the general population.
The main drivers behind the ‘Wellness Seeker’ need state, millennials are fast followers that pay close attention to the latest well-being trends in order to improve their mind and body. They are also more likely to use social media and online communities to connect with others who are on similar diets and share tips and advice. Finally, unlike other generations, the gender balance of millennials who are trying to lose weight is more evenly distributed than other generations, tipping slightly female at 51.5%.
Born between 1997 and 2012, 55% of Gen Z'ers say that they're trying to lose weight. Additionally, the overwhelming majority (75%) of Gen Z'er's trying to lose weight are following specific diets. The most environmentally conscious of the generations, Gen Z tends to gravitate towards plant-based diets to reach their weight loss goals.
In addition to vegetarian and vegan diets, they also over-index for high protein and gluten-free diets. Gen Z'ers are the least likely generation to use vitamins and supplements but the most likely to eat high-protein frozen meals. As a generation that has grown up with the internet, it's no surprise that many are turning to the web for weight loss tips. According to recent data, more than half (55%) of Gen Z'ers use social media to inform their decisions on diet and wellness.
Focused on well-balanced diets and holistic wellness, Gen Z is also more likely to pick products that market healthy benefits over weight loss results. Although the gender balance of Gen Z who are trying to lose weight tips female at 54%, the gender differences in healthy eating for Gen Z are less rigid than they have been in past generations.
It is worth noting that there is a lot of overlap among generations when it comes to diet and weight loss preferences. Many people will try multiple diets over the course of their lifetime, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for everyone. However, understanding the trends and patterns within each generation can be a valuable tool for brands looking to connect with specific age groups.