Fewer Americans Dieting; Fewer View Being Overweight as Unattractive

The percentage of Americans on a diet has decreased over the last 30 years, according to The NPD Group.  About 20% of adults report they are on a diet, down from a peak of 31% in 1991. Women are leading the decline in dieting.  In the past ten years, the percentage of women on a diet has dropped by about 10 points. In 1992, 34% of women told NPD they were on a diet; and in 2012, 23% of women reported being on a diet.

Our data suggests that dieters are giving up on diets more quickly than in the past. In 2004, 66% of all dieters said they were on a diet for at least 6 months. In 2012, that number dropped to 62%. Perhaps people are not seeing results quickly enough,” said Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group and author of "The 27th Annual Eating Patterns in America Report." “Americans still want to lose weight, but we are seeing a change in attitudes about being overweight,” said Balzer.


In 2012, twenty-​three (23%) percent of Americans agreed that people who are not overweight look a lot more attractive. That number is down substantially from 55% of Americans in 1985. weight

This is one of the biggest changes in our attitudes about health over the last 30 years,” said Balzer.


Starting a new year on a diet remains a tradition in this country. The lowest point for dieting is always the last two weeks of the year according to NPD’s "Dieting Monitor,"which examines top-​of-​mind dieting and nutrition-​related issues facing consumers. In 2012, NPD estimates that 34 million adults were on a diet during the holidays.

But during the first two weeks of January, our data suggests that number jumps 47% to 50 million adults now on a diet,” said Balzer, national expert on food and diet trends.  “There will always be adults who make dieting a lifestyle. Twenty-​seven percent of all dieters in 2012 followed a diet for more than a year, which is up from 22% in 2004. I hope they are not still losing weight and perhaps being on a permanent diet is a lifestyle choice,” said Balzer.

[Source:  "The 27th Annual Eating Patterns in America Report." The NPD Group.  7 Jan. 2013.  Web.  10 Jan. 2013.]