Weight-Loss Statistics 2024 | Surprising Facts & Data

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Millions of people in the US are trying to lose weight every day. The demand for product, services, and education has made the weight loss industry worth an incredible $3.4 Billion in 2023, in the US alone. And with 80% of adults saying they “could be healthier” more growth can be expected.

Key Weight Loss Business Insights

  • Dieting beat out equipment and education, with three quarters of global sales.
  • 84% of market sales came from the Asian Pacific.
  • The global weight management market was valued at $132.7 Billion in 2021, with an expected growth rate of 9.7% compounded. [1]
  • If those projections hold, it would mean the weight loss market would hit $334.92 Billion by 2030.

In this article we’ll look at some of the weight loss statistics that are fueling this market. These data can be invaluable in developing key insights for products and services, researching consumer behavior, and for predicting or identifying trends.

Key Demographics

These data are compiled by the International Food Information Council, a resource we will pull from throughout this article. They are a nonprofit food education and research organization focused on science, health and the environment. While only 14% responded that they are overweight or obese, their other responses indicate that 30% were overweight and 27% were obese based on their BMI (body mass index).

  • 52% of people between 18-34 years old have tried a diet in the last year.
  • 43% of all women have dieted in the last year. Only 34% of men have.
  • 50% of Hispanics have recently dieted. 34% of non-Hispanic whites have.
  •  32% of African Americans say they actively seek out health benefits. Only 19% of non-Hispanic whites have.
  • Over 20% of all survey respondents say that weight loss and management is the key health benefit they look for in food.

Additional data has been collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These data are based on medical records, not surveys.

  • 41% of people over 20 have obesity.
  • Over 20% of adolescents 6-19 years old have obesity.
  • 12.7% of children under 6 are classified as obese. [2]
  • 38.7% of African American men, and 55.9% of women are obese. [3]
  • 44.8% of Hispanic men and 46.8% of Hispanic women are obese. [4]
  • The lowest prevalence of obesity was in Asian and Pacific Island populations, with 14.2% of men and 16% of women being obese. [5]
  • White population splits are 41.7% of men being obese, and 39.7% of women. [6]

Attitudes Toward Weight Gain and Loss

Psychology is an important aspect of all behaviors, and weight loss is no exception. Here we look at some sampling data collected by the Journal Obesity. [7]

  • Only 23% of respondents (people with obesity, PoW) said they had lost significant weight in the last 3 years.
  • 65% of those people saw obesity as a disease, but only 54% thought obesity might affect their future health.
  • 82% of all respondents thought obesity was entirely “their fault.”
  • Only 50% of persons with obesity saw themselves as such.
  • Of those diagnosed with obesity, only 24% had scheduled appointments after their diagnosis to discuss it.

More data can be extracted from a Survey of Americans taken and collated by the CDC [8]. Combined with the raw demographic data, and the incidences of obesity, the statistics that follow finish painting the broad strokes of weight loss in America.

Motivations

Obesity Reviews, another journal, also collated data from dozens of weight loss studies, and we’ll pull their data regarding people’s motivations for losing weight:

  • 95% of people want to lose weight for their own wellbeing
  • 84.6% to improve fitness.
  • 73.9% to improve self-esteem.
  • 71.4% to improve appearance.
  • 46.2% of people try to lose weight because of a spouse.
  • 40% because of health or professional advice.
  • 37.8% to improve social life or avoid discrimination.
  • 35.3% to improve health.
  • 32.2% to improve professional life or personal life.
  • 27.8% try to lose weight for family. [9]

General:

  • 49.1% of US adults try to lose weight in a given 12 months.
  • Among them, 56.4% are women, 41.7% are men.
  • Race:

  • 41.4% of Asian Americans try to lose weight, as well as:
  • 48% of African Americans,
  • 49.1% of Hispanic Americans,
  • And 49.4% of white Americans.
  • Ages:

    The lowest percentage of people losing weight are:

  • The lowest percentage of people losing weight are older adults (42.7%), followed by:
  • 49.7% of adults under 40, and
  • 52.4% of middle-aged adults.
  • Methods

    The following are the top ways that people tried to lose weight, ranked in order. Many of respondants, of course, answered with more than one option.

    • 62.9% of people tried to lose weight by exercising.
    • 62.9% ate less.
    • 50.4% ate more vegetables and fruit.
    • 44.7% try to lose weight by drinking more water.
    • 42.7% try to eat less unhealthy foods.
    • 38.7% said “changing eating habits”, but this isn’t clarified.
    • 38.6% ate less sugar.
    • 35.3% chose lower calorie foods to lose weight.
    • 30.4% ate less carbs.
    • 29.2% ate less fat.
    • 16.4% of people skip meals to lose weight.

    Additionally, 83% of people try two or more avenues to lose weight. For more information on food choices related to weight loss, please read below under the Food Choice header, and the Diet subheader.

    Losing weight, also by the CDC’s estimation, can have substantial health benefits. Losing even only 5-10% body weight can improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugars. Also, people who lose only 1-2 pounds per week are more likely to keep their weight off.

    In related data, market analysts put the costs of obesity on the heatlh care system at $210 Billion/year.

    Types of Weight Loss

    The two main ways people use to lose weight, as reported by survey, are exercise and diet. These responses, however, do not take into account supplement use. It is important to make several inferences and deductions based on this discrepancy. It isn’t known whether the CDC specifically excluded supplement questions, or if people are not honest on healthcare surveys about supplement use for weight loss.

    Exercise

    Getting physical remains one of the key components to getting in shape and losing weight. We’ll take a look at some of the data about how much and how often people are exercising. One important caveat is that almost all of this data is based on surveys.

    Yoga is the fastest growing type of exercise. From 2010 to 2021, Yoga participants went from 21 Million to 34.4 Million people per year.
    • The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. Or, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or some combination of the two. [10]
    • The World Health Organization estimates that insufficient exercise increases death rates by 20-30%
    • 46.9% of adults get the recommended aerobic activity.
    • But only 24.2% of people get the right combination of aerobic and resistance exercise. [11]
      • This number is down over 10% since 2008.
    • According to other sources, only 19.3% of Americans engage in sports or exercise on any given day [12]
      • Men report slightly higher exercise rates than women, 20.7% to 18%.
    • Overall, Americans respond that they spend one half-hour exercising, when they do.
    • According to the numbers, Vermont has the highest exercise rate (28.5%).
    • Kentucky has the lowest rate (15.3%). [13]

    Physical Activity by Type

    We can narrow our focus a little more by examining where and how people are exercising.

    • 64 Million Americans have gym memberships of some kind. [14]
      • That’s a full third of worldwide numbers (184.61 gym memberships globally). [15]
    • Bicycling is the largest exercise group by type, with 51.4 Million Americans saying they ride a bike at least once in a year. [16]
    • 49 Million Americans run or jog, but that number is on the decline [17]
    • Less than 31 Million people use weights or machines, which number is down over 15% since COVID. [18]

    Other miscellaneous data can add context to people’s main exercise [19] routines. For instance:

    • 37% of consumers use step counters, but step counters [20] are only 50-75% accurate. [21]
    • 90% of successful weight loss participants exercise an average of one hour per day[22]
    • 94% of weight losers increase physical activity, usually with more walking.

    Diet

    Given that over 80% of people try more than one way to lose weight, and that 10 of the top 11 ways are food related, it’s important to look at what the diets may consist of.

    • According to the Int’l Food Info Council, 10% of all dieters use calorie counting.
    • Nearly 40% of people say the reason to diet is “to lose weight”.
    • Just under 30% wanted to prevent weight gain.
    • Meanwhile 58% of these same people snack at least once a day.
      • Almost 25% said multiple times per day.

    Separate data from the CDC [23] indicate that:

    • 17.1% of adults are on a diet; this is much lower than the ~30% using the weight-loss data, also from the CDC.
    • The most common diet is calorie restriction.

    More of these data can be found in our “Diet Failure Statistics”.  Additional data from the NWCR participants tell us that 98% of success stories include changing food habits in some way.

    Supplement Use

    Despite the missing supplement data in many of our surveys thus far, supplements have become a billion dollar industry, much of that for weight loss; those sales aren’t coming from no one.

    • 15% of US adults use some form of supplement for weight loss.
    • That comes to 21% of women, and 10% of men.
    • $2.1 Billion in supplements for weight loss alone are sold every year.
    • Weight loss is a top-20 reason for supplement use. [24]

    For more information on supplements in general, and for weight loss, please see our Supplements Statistics article, here.

    Food Choice

    People’s attitudes toward food can tell us a lot about how food intake may influence their weight and weight loss. The following were gathered by the International Food Information Council. These data can be collated with the previous CDC survey data, above.

    • Only around 50% of people regularly stop eating when full.
    • Over 50% of people eat because of stress at least “Sometimes”
    • Over 15% of people feel guilty about what they eat “Always” or “Often”

    Attitudes Toward Food

    Finding out how people feel about food can give insight into how they conceptualize it impacting their weight and weight loss. This can also inform perceptions about the CDC data, and how people choose between options such as “eat less junk food” and “eat more fruits and vegetables.

    • 28% of people think that all calories equally contribute to weight gain.
    • 22% blame sugar.
    • 20% blame carbohydrates, generally.
    • 14% of people attribute weight gain to fats.
    • 12% are unsure [24]

    Miscellaneous Habits

    78% of successful weight loss participants eat breakfast everyday.

    75% weight themselves once a week.

    62% watch less than 10 hours of television a week.

    References

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    About the Author

    Sam is a passionate health and fitness enthusiast who has been interested in supplements, fitness, and wellness for over 10 years. He is the founder of Great Green Wall - the health and wellness brand and has completed multiple fitness certificates, including personal training and nutrition certifications. Sam has been working as a personal trainer for the past three years and is dedicated to helping his clients achieve their fitness goals and lead healthier lifestyles. He believes that a healthy lifestyle is crucial to a happy and fulfilling life and is committed to sharing his knowledge and passion with others.

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