Health-Conscious Trends for Weight Loss in 2006: Small Changes Are “In”
ATLANTA (December 15, 2005) — As the holiday season comes to a close and the new year approaches, many will make a vow to shed those unwanted pounds. According to a recent Calorie Control Council survey, 54 percent of Americans – or 123 million people – are currently trying to reduce their weight.
The typical dieter tries to lose weight an average of three times per year. However, health professionals advise avoiding yo-yo dieting and quick-fix gimmicks and instead focus on making lifestyle changes.
“Making small changes can have big results,” says Beth Hubrich, R.D., executive director of the Council. “By reducing portions, controlling calories, adding more activity, people cannot only lose weight but also control their weight without feeling deprived. These small changes are lifestyle changes and hopefully that is what 2006 will bring — a focus on healthy changes that can be maintained for life.”
With so many Americans focusing on controlling and losing weight, what trends will emerge in 2006? The Council is making these predictions when it comes to weight loss and obesity for the coming year:
- Portion control becomes easier: For many consumers who have a hard time knowing when to stop, pre-portioned snacks maybe an answer. Snacks such as the 100-calorie packs and mini-sized cans of soda allow adults and children to enjoy their favorite treats with fewer calories. Additional companies are likely to roll out similar product lines as these snacks continue to fly off the shelves.
- Consumers will make simple substitutions: The average American gains one to three pounds every year, according to the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Eating just 50 fewer calories a day can result in a five-pound weight loss over the course of a year, avoiding the dreaded weight gain. As a result, more consumers will begin making simple substitutions in their meals and snacks. For example, choosing a light yogurt in place of a full-calorie yogurt can save 130 calories and choosing light lemonade over the full-calorie version will save 98 calories. Many companies now feature light, low-calorie or sugar-free versions of their products and consumers will increasingly use these products to save calories.
- Companies will continue to fight obesity with more corporate wellness: Obesity costs employers approximately $12.7 billion each year in health care costs (36 percent higher for obese employees), medications, paid sick leave and life insurance policies, according to the Washington Business Group on Health. According to Hewitt Associates (which specializes in Human Resources), 72 percent of U.S. companies are now offering programs to help employees lose weight and live healthier lifestyles. Corporate wellness and e-dieting programs such as the Council’s non-commercial site, www.caloriescount.com, discourage the “fad diet” mentality and instead teach health-conscious employees to count calories and make lifestyle changes. “Weight-loss via the web has now been proven to be a successful method and gives people the benefit of 24/7 support,” says Hubrich.
- Sugar-free gum gains popularity: The popularity of sugar-free gum will continue to rise as consumers find small ways to cut calories from their diet. In 2004, sales of sugar-free chewing gum accounted for more than 70 percent of gum sales in the U.S., according to Information Resources, Inc. Sugar-free gum is a great alternative to a higher-calorie snack or dessert. Chewing gum also has additional benefits: Research from the University of Liverpool indicates that chewing gum not only helps suppress the appetite but may also help cut cravings for sweets. Sales of sugar-free gum and candy will continue to increase as companies produce different varieties and tastes, using an assortment of reduced-calorie sweeteners.
- Pedometers track success at little cost: To help incorporate physical activity into their hectic schedules, more consumers will take advantage of the pedometer in hopes of walking 10,000 steps a day, which is approximately 5 miles. The pedometer will encourage people to get up and get moving. Programs such as “Colorado on the Move” and “Shape Up America” help encourage people to walk 10,000 steps a day to prevent obesity.
The trends for 2006 will focus on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through small lifestyle changes. By controlling portions, making smart choices and incorporating physical activity into their schedule, people can achieve the weight loss goal they hope for.