Rising tide of obesity continues to float weight management boat
“I don’t think interest in the category ever really subsides,” said consultant Tim Avila. Avila is a principal in the firm Systems Bioscience, which helps clients identify cutting edge ingredients and delivery mode technologies.
“The latest talking point is about obesity because it’s out of control. Beyond pandemic,” he said.
Sobering obesity statistics
The raw statistics of the problem are sobering. Obesity rates continue to rise in the United States and around the world. According to date from the Centers for Disease Control in the US in 2018, in every state at least 20% of the non Hispanic white adults were obese. In 22 states more than 30% such adults qualified as obese (a BMI of 30 or more) and in two states, Kentucky and West Virginia, the number was more than 35%. For Hispanics and blacks, the numbers were even worse. Contrast that to 1990, when no state ranked above 15%. The trend in other industrialized countries is similar if perhaps not quite as extreme.
Bifurcated weight management market
Avila said the weight management market is bifurcating along a number of lines.
“One is the adiposity/fat loss side. How can you be a fat burner and not a fat accumulator?” he said.
Another aspect of the market looks at another meaning of the term ‘management’ in this context. In this view, consumers are ‘managing’ their weight by trying not get heavier and trying to stay healthy at the weight they’re at. But in this subset of the market, consumers are not necessarily trying to lose weight. Whether you believe they’re adopting a healthy mindset or are simply giving up depends on your point of view.
“On the obesity side there is a lot of interest in things that can prevent you from getting sick even if you don’t look exactly like you’d want to. There is a psychology of fat acceptance. That’s a very different aspirational mode than the fat burners,” Avila said.
Avila said a third aspect of the market has to do with the crossover between sports nutrition and weight management. In this case dropping excess pounds while building some modicum of muscle all serve an aesthetic end.
“This is the physique enthusiast market. In other words, I want to look at hot as possible,” he said.
The sport of looking good has developed to teh point that there are separate competition categories for bikini, figure and physique, with the amount of muscle accumulation and definition ramping up with each step up that scale.
Working with dieting trends
Avila said consumers are getting savvier to the point where they’re aware that there is no magic pill they can take to make them lose weight. The problem, they understand, has to be tackled via a multimodal approach, which includes altering the mindset in a way that gives rise to new, healthier habits.
“There have been diet plan companies like Noom looking at that. Weight Watchers is trying to address it, too. How do we address the psychological aspects of this behavioral change?” he said.
But dietary supplement companies shouldn’t despair, Avila said. Even though there have been some crazes like green coffee bean extract or raspberry ketones that blazed up and flamed out in spectacular fashion, perhaps damaging the credibility of the category in the process, there are still many ingredients on the market with real benefits to offer.
“The supplement-assisted lifestyle is still important and you need all of it—diet, lifestyle change and supplements,” he said.
Avila mentioned Iovate as a leader in the weight loss arena among supplement manufacturers. The company markets weight management products under the Hydroxycut, Purely Inspired and Xenadrine brand names. Hydroxycut relies on active ingredients including caffeine from coffee as well as a coffee extract supplying chlorogenic acid, the active ingredient that once drove the green coffee bean craze. Purely Inspired relies on a Garcinia cambogia extract along with a coffee extract and the Xenadrine line includes Garcinia cambogia, turmeric, apple cider vinegar and ALA.
Avila also said that the importance of new diets can’t be ignored. Paleo, keto, and something now referred to as the carnivore diet are all trends, he said, and savvy supplement marketers are finding ways to tap into and benefit from these trends.
“The truth is there is not perfect diet for adiposity and human health. I’m introducing with a partner a new concept that has to do with an insulin sensitivity diet,” he said.
“I think hydroxycitric acid (the active ingredient in Garcinia cambogia extracts) may have gotten a bad rap but I think our industry has used in wrong. And there is a new form of pyruvic acid that we’re working on,” Avila said.