Diet and weight loss statistics

Diet and weight loss statistics

Americans spend billions of dollars on diets and gain back the weight they lose.

More and more American adults are dieting each year, and weight loss industry revenue continues to grow.

Americans spend $60+ billion per year dieting

In 2012, Americans spent an estimated $65 billion trying to lose weight! This number has increased from:

  • $60.9 billion in 2010
  • $60.4 billion in 2009
  • $58.6 billion in 2008
Breakdown of money spent in 2010:
  • Diet soft drinks – $21.15 billion
  • Health clubs – $19.5 billion (Gym statistics: members, equipment, and cancellations)
  • Medical plans – $8.25 billion (bariatric surgery, prescription diet drugs, hospital or physician plans, very low calorie plans)
  • Bariatric surgery – $5.77 billion
  • Commercial weight loss centers – $3.29 billion
  • Meal replacements and diet pills – $2.69 billion (Top 5 things to know about weight loss supplements)
  • Artificial sweeteners – $2.52 billion
  • Low calorie/diet foods – $2.32 billion
  • Diet books, exercise videos – $1.21 billion

50% of American adults are dieting

Roughly 50% of American adults are trying to lose or maintain their weight.

  • An estimated 108 million American adults were dieting in 2012.
  • In 2008, roughly 96 million American adults were dieting. (56 million adults were trying to lose weight and 40 million adults were trying to maintain their weight.)

Each year, more and more adults are trying to lose weight. In 2004, 33% of American adults were dieting; in 2000, 24% were dieting.

80% of dieters try to lose weight on their own

Approximately 80% of dieters are trying to lose weight on their own.

Methods used to lose weight

The most popular methods used among American adults are:

Nearly all dieters gain their weight back

Nearly all dieters (90-95%) regain the weight they lost within one to five years.

Even adults who have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for five years, have failed many times before finally losing weight for good. (These adults are members of the NWCR).

In fact, these adults have lost an average of 270 lbs in their lifetime before successfully losing weight and keeping it off. Follow their 10 Proven ways to lose weight and keep it off.

Adults make 4 weight loss attempts each year

The typical American dieter makes 4 weight loss attempts per year. Many adults make their first attempt around the New Year.

Weight Loss Resolutions

In a 2011 Thomson Reuter’s NPR Health Poll, 35% of respondents reported setting a resolution to lose weight in the last 5 years. Of those respondents, 38% had set weight loss resolutions year after year (5 resolutions in the last 5 years).

  • 47.6% resolved to lose 10-29 lbs
  • 20.9% resolved to lose 30-49 lbs
Resolutions (like diets) don’t last

Nearly half of New Year’s resolutions are broken by February:

  • Within two weeks, nearly 1/4 of resolutions are broken.
  • Within three weeks, 1/3 of resolutions are broken.
  • Within one month, nearly 1/2 of resolutions are broken.

Instead of resolving to lose weight in January, start making small, gradual changes now that will become a permanent part of your lifestyle.

Stop dieting to lose weight for good

The best and only way to lose weight for good is to make small, gradual, and realistic changes to your exercise and eating habits over time.

Follow our free 5 Step plan for permanent weight loss and make your first small change.

Calorie Control Council National Consumer Survey, 2010 (
Marketdata Enterprises Inc. (2009, February 16). Diet Market Worth $58.6 Billion in U.S. Last Year, But Grown is Flat, Due to Recession (Press Release). Tampa, FL.
Marketdata Enterprises Inc. (2011, May 5). Diet Market Worth $60.9 Billion in U.S. Last Year, But Grown is Flat, Due to Recession. (Press Release). Tampa, FL.
Marketdata Enterprises Inc. (2012, January 10). Number of American Dieters Soars to 108 Million; Market to Grow 4.5% to $65 Billion in 2012 (Press Release). Tampa, FL.
Norcross, J.C., Mrykalo, M.S., & Blagys, M.D. (2002). Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Pshcyology, 58 (4), 397-405
Goldstein, F., Leviine, R., Spencer, T., Colditz, G.A., Stampfer, J.J. (1996). Three year follow-up of participants in a commercial weight loss program: can you keep it off? Archives of Internal Medicine. 156 (12), 1302.

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About the Author
Stephanie Averkamp

About the Author was created by Stephanie Averkamp, a recognized health and fitness professional and sole-author of the content on this website. Stephanie's approach to weight loss emphasizes making small, realistic, and permanent lifestyle changes. Read more...

Stephanie Averkamp

Our Approach: Short-term solutions (like dieting) are unrealistic and ineffective because at some point they end. As soon as a diet or program ends, so do the results. Permanent weight loss is a journey; it's not a race or competition and there is no finish line. Read more...