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Weight Loss Trends: Millennials Influence How Americans Perceive Diet, Nutrition & Exercise

December 12, 2019 Sarah Cavill

Shutterstock_1292487769 Flat lay composition with scales, healthy food and sport equipment on wooden background. Weight loss

Keto, Whole30, fasting, running, not-running — diet and exercise are constantly evolving. Even for people who aren’t interested in losing weight, determining what is “ok to eat” or the best kind of cardio is a constantly shifting challenge. The powerful Millennial demographic and near-constant use of technology across generations has a significant influence on nutrition and exercise trends, even more so than doctors who may, in fact, be less influential than social media. Reaching audiences amid the shifting sands of weight loss trends means embracing health-focused, body-positive language that works across social media platforms and emphasizes tech options.

Millennials Are Leading The Way With Diet And Food Trends

Millennials are a driving force behind how Americans eat, according to an article in The Washington Post. The idea of healthy eating, in particular, has changed from low-fat or low-sugar to “natural, organic, locally sourced or sustainable.” The farm-to-table movement, “clean” eating and aspects of the wellness movement are all responses to Millennial preferences and customizations when it comes to food. Sustainability is also an important factor for Millennials when choosing to eat healthy, as evidenced in part by the growing popularity of plant-based meat alternatives. “The shift toward plant-based foods is being driven by Millennials, who are most likely to consider the food source, animal welfare issues and environmental impacts when making their purchasing decisions,” said Fiona Dyer, a Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, which works with 4000 companies around the world and reports on trends.

For wellness brands looking to reach Millennials, social media fitness professionals, influencers and their friends and family are the best avenues, far more than doctors or dieticians. The Washington Post notes 40% of Millennials rely on friends and family for information about food and nutrition, compared to 21% of Baby Boomers.

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands are also finding opportunities for new, more adventurous products targeted at Millennials, who are less loyal to heritage brands than older generations. Healthy snacks, in particular, are more popular with Millennials than other generations. Millennials tend to look for snacks in a variety of different kinds of stores and share their finds on social media. KIND bar is a good example of a brand that appeals to Millennials with their motto “be KIND to your body, your taste buds and the world.”

The Audience For Prescription Weight Loss Drugs Is Waning As Instagram Encourages Quick-Results Solutions

The rise of holistic wellness and social-media influenced dieting as weight loss trends, plus lingering fears from the recall of fen-phen, have led to a decline in interest for prescription weight loss medications. The decline is happening even as doctors believe prescriptions may be necessary in a society increasingly less fit. “I prescribe them [prescription weight loss drugs] all the time,” said Dr. Vijaya Surampudi, an endocrinologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA. “But [weight loss prescriptions] are not very popular. I think a lot of physicians are uncomfortable prescribing weight loss medications. Fen-phen scares off a lot of them.”

In 2018, the CDC found 50% of Americans were trying to lose weight. However, the focus on quick weight loss, instead of health-based weight loss that might take longer and have less apparent results, may be leading dieters to shy away from medical solutions and instead lean into more Instagram-friendly diet trends like juice cleanses, influencer-curated meal plans and photo-friendly plates of Keto meals. For brands looking to partner with nutrition or health influencers on social media, an abundance of caution when espousing any sort of health claims is recommended. Body positive, inclusive language is more accepted and less likely to make promises that can’t be kept.

Technology-Based Exercise Options Are Growing In Popularity

Shutterstock_397877713 Active girl with smartphone listening to music in gym.

Like everything else, exercise is becoming integrated into all of the technologies consumers have come to rely on, including wearables and mobile apps. The popularity of Peloton, which connects people exercising in their homes to classes all over the world, and gyms like F45 that offer multiple different technological innovations to enhance workouts, illustrate that technology and exercise are weight loss and lifestyle trends audiences are seeking out. According to an article in Uproxx, on the latest trends in exercising and tech, “Thanks to advances in everything from workout gear to nutrition, technology is transforming the way we exercise. It’s becoming more equitable and safer for everyone involved. Whether you’re a serious athlete or a twice-a-week jogger, technology has changed the game for the better.”

For brands trying to reach modern consumers interested in health and fitness or people chasing weight loss trends, multichannel campaigns that embrace the popularity of social media and technology are essential.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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