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Effective Weight Management Solutions: Product Developers and Marketers Must Rise to the Challenge of a Growing Public Health Crisis

Views: 15     Author: Natalia     Publish Time: 2019-11-14      Origin: Nutraceuticals World

In the U.S., more than one-third of adults are obese (34.9%, or 78.6 million). With a variety of related health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008.


Despite recent declines in the prevalence among pre-school aged children, obesity among children is still high. For U.S. children and adolescents aged 2-19 years, the prevalence of obesity has remained fairly stable at about 17%, affecting about 12.7 million children and adolescents over the past decade.


“The recent downturn in childhood obesity rates is encouraging for the long-term health prospects of consumers in the U.S.”, according to Barbara Davis, PhD, RD, vice president, medical & scientific affairs, PLT Health Solutions, Morristown, NJ. “To the extent that childhood weight issues are predictive of adult weight problems, we may be heading in the right direction for the first time in decades.”


A Market Shift?


After Dr. Mehmet Oz came under scrutiny last year for making outlandish claims regarding “magic” weight loss ingredients, the dietary supplement market may now be heading in a new direction.


Weight management products have been among the top selling nutraceuticals for many years, because so many people feel they need them, noted Shaheen Majeed, marketing director, Sabinsa, East Windsor, NJ. “It is a common myth among consumers that weight loss supplements are miracle pills that can give instant solutions to weight problems, and some marketing programs perpetuate this myth, which is why the regulatory agencies scrutinize them closely. Clinically validated, safe and effective standardized ingredients along with a balanced diet and exercise regime are the solution.”


With increased demand for weight management products, comes renewed responsibility within the industry to provide quality products, Mr. Majeed added.


Paul Dijkstra, CEO, InterHealth Nutraceuticals, Benicia, CA, agreed that reputability, efficacy and safety are among the biggest issues in the weight management category today. “The focus needs to be on education. Wild claims combined with negative media coverage have made consumers wary. Weight loss supplements continue to represent important sales drives, but many in the industry are waiting to see how negative attention will affect long-term category growth.”


Overall, the quality and efficacy of supplements on the market today are mixed, according to Steve Siegel, vice president of Ecuadorian Rainforest, LLC, Belleville, NJ. “Many perform very well and, when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise program, provide satisfactory results. However, there are some supplements that are not as effective and may be unsafe. It all depends on the supplement manufacturer’s quality-control practices to ensure they have a quality product containing quality-tested ingredients.”


Weight management supplements are only one part of the solution, Mr. Siegel added. “To address obesity it will take a collaborative effort involving the health industry, government and the public.”


Consumers have come to realize that diet and exercise are the keys to sustainable weight management, according to Lynda Doyle, vice president of global marketing, OmniActive Health Technologies, Morristown, NJ. “Supplements using premium, branded ingredients that are safe and backed by science can support weight management goals.”


She suggested the days of “magic bullet” pills boasting unfounded claims or questionable ingredients with potential side effects are in the past. “The category has undergone a market ‘correction’ as manufacturers rely less on sensationalism and realize that consumers are increasingly savvy when it comes to weight loss claims and want effective formulas. And with greater FDA scrutiny in this category, manufacturers are evaluating the science first to support their claims and formulas. That can only lead to better formulas that can prosper in this growing market.”


PLT’s Dr. Davis said companies need to become smarter about how they approach weight management formulations, “and address issues like age demographics and lifestyles if we are going to put our best foot forward as an industry.”

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