A team of researchers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dropped a bombshell study which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005. It attributed approximately 26,000 excess deaths a year to obesity. Earlier figures were estimated to be 15 times higher giving rise to much controversy and debate by leading experts over this issue. But whether obesity affects the rate of mortality or not it definitely has an impact on an individual’s health and quality of life. Obesity increases the risk of many mental and physical conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing difficulties during sleep, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.1-2 

Currently, about 70 percent of adults and 32 percent of school-age children and adolescents in the United States are either obese or overweight. In the last 30 years, the rate of obesity in children has tripled according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. According to Packaged Facts, obesity rates had increased 48 percent between 1988 and 2008 in adults; 72 percent in children and teenagers.3-4 

Not only in the United States, which has the largest obese population, but waistlines are expanding all over the world driving the global weight management market to burgeoning sales. About 1.6 billion people all over the world are either obese or overweight. Strategically playing a role in helping to restrain the obesity epidemic, the weight loss industry has been introducing a wide range of weight management products for customers to choose from. According to Opportunities in Global Weight Management Ingredients, a report from Frost & Sullivan (a business research and consulting firm with over 40 offices worldwide), the global market for weight management ingredients increased by 7 percent in 2009, pushing its market value to $7.5 billion. By 2015, Frost & Sullivan predicts the market for weight loss ingredients will rise to $13.5 billion.5 

Ingredients that Promote Weight Loss

Consumers are seeking natural solutions that will help accelerate healthy weight loss in conjunction with a balanced diet and exercise. Scientific research has identified several herbal and botanical ingredients that may help individuals achieve their weight loss goals. According to Global Industry Analysts Inc. (GIA is a global market research company based in California), the most popular ingredients used in weight loss supplements are:6

  • fiber, protein such as soy, whey and casein
  • botanical extracts such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) yerba mate, citrus aurantium, hoodia gorndonni, caralluma fimbriata.

Other ingredients backed by research include chromium picolinate, chitosan, hydroxycitric acid, and pyruvate. Digestive aids, such as probiotics, known to promote a healthy digestive system are also popular to use in weight management products. Glucomannan, a dietary fiber derived from the root of the konjac plant, has been studied for its weight loss effects in overweight and obese individuals. Studies showed effective results with minimal gastrointestinal side effects. Glucomannan has also shown the ability to regulate glycemic levels and support a healthy lipid profile.7-14

The science behind these products is based on satiety, thermogenesis, absorption, stimulants, metabolic modifiers and other factors. According to GIA, recent consumer trends indicate a preference towards weight management products that promote satiety with protein and fiber being core ingredients.

Popular delivery systems include fiber and protein powders, capsules, tablets, gels and liquids.

Strategies for Successful Marketing

About 40 percent of adults (85 million people) are watching their diets in order to lose weight or maintain weight, according to Packaged Facts. According to the Frost & Sullivan report most buyers are not very clear about the specific advantages of different weight management ingredients. The weight loss industry could profit from extensive marketing efforts that educate consumers about the value and validity of various weight loss ingredients. This type of promotion is expected to help instill consumer confidence in weight loss products, especially as trends show that consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical about sensation-based marketing techniques. According to GIA the total weight management market is expected to rise to $46.9 billion by 2015.

Here are a few strategies you may want to adopt:

  • Product differentiation. Highlight an efficacious ingredient in your product or use appropriate claims to differentiate your product in the marketplace.
  • Use of promotional leaflets to educate your consumers on the benefits of specific ingredients in your product.
  • Promoting a clear brand message – your brand’s core values and goals should be consistently projected across products.
  • Identifying a ready market and targeting your consumers with value propositions. Consumers should be able to easily associate your product with projected benefits.

In addition to the adult target market, the GIA reports that manufacturers are targeting weight loss products for kids and developing countries where obesity is becoming a public health concern.


  1. Excess Deaths Associated With Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity, JAMA. 2005;293(15):1861-1867. doi:
  2. "Obesity". Lancet 366 (9492): 1197–209. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67483-1. PMID 16198769.
  3. Childhood Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity
  4. Weight Management Trends in the U.S., Packaged Facts, packagedfacts.com/weight-management-trends-1936257
  5. Opportunities in Global Weight Management Ingredients, Frost & Sullivan, frost.com/prod/servlet/report-toc.pag?repid=M3F7-01-00-00-00
  6. A Global Strategic Business Report, Global Analysts Inc., strategyr.com/Weight_Control_Products_Market_Report.asp
  7. Safety and efficacy of citrus aurantium for weight loss. Am J Cardiol. 2004;94(10):1359–61. [PubMed]
  8. Chromium picolinate for reducing body weight: meta-analysis of randomized trials. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003;27(4):522–9. [PubMed]
  9. Chitosan for overweight or obesity. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005;(3):CD003892. [PubMed
  10. Efficacy and safety of dietary supplements containing CLA for the treatment of obesity: evidence from animal and human studies. J Lipid Res. 2003;44(12):2234–41. Epub 2003 Aug [PubMed]
  11. HCA efficiency. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2004;6(6):458–9. [PubMed]
  12. Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79(4):529–36. [PubMed]
  13. Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition. 2005;21(3):411–8. [PubMed]
  14. Glucomannan and obesity: a critical review. Altern Ther Health Med. 2005;11(6):30–4. [PubMed]