Global Weight Loss Trends 2023

Popular diets and weight loss alternatives from around the world

According to data from the World Health Organization, published in 2021, as many as 2.8 million people die every year due to obesity, whilst 115 million individuals from the developing world suffer from obesity-related health conditions.[1]

Countries particularly impacted by increasingly overweight populations include the United States, China, and India. Despite being quite common in developed countries, like the US, we are seeing a rise in obesity in developing countries due to rising disposable incomes in the middle classes and increased Westernisation when it comes to food.

In recent years, however, there has also been a rise in popularity for weight loss diets across the globe, some of which we’ll focus on in this article. As you’ll see, these diets may take years to become known and accepted in certain regions, whilst popularity declines elsewhere in the world.

This is particularly true of developing countries where exposure to weight loss diets is yet to reach the overexposed levels experienced in the developing world.

We will take a look at four popular diets, Dukan, Paleo, plant-based and Keto, as well as alternatives to dieting which are also increasing in popularity around the world, including surgery and the use of supplements.

Dukan Diet

Pierre Dukan is a French nutritionist and the creator of the high-protein, low-carb diet of the same name.

The Dukan diet focuses on natural foods, with followers eating foods high in protein but low in carbohydrates and fat. There is an official list of around 100 foods which are allowed whilst on the diet.

The diet itself is split into four distinct phases which are designed to first help you lose weight, and then stabilise your weight as a result of the new eating habits learnt.

Because of the four phase process, the Dukan diet does not guarantee extreme weight loss over a short period of time, unlike other diets, so it requires people to be much more committed to following through with the whole process.

How long someone follows the diet for depends on their starting weight, fitness levels, and desired results.

For example, the first phase, or the attack phase, lasts between five to ten days where dieters have 72 high-protein foods to choose from, but carbs are completely banned. The second phase, called the cruise phase, slowly introduces carbs in the form of 28 approved vegetables, but lasts as long as it takes the dieter to reach their target weight.

The two subsequent stages (consolidation and stabilisation phases) are then designed to stabilise the individual’s weight and solidify healthy eating habits for the long-term.

Now, the Dukan diet has been criticised for not being nutritionally balanced due to its highly restrictive nature. It also requires followers to take a daily supplement of oat bran, and may require additional supplements due to the limited fruits and vegetables that can be consumed.

Despite this, the Dukan diet maintains popularity in France and mainland Europe, but has also experienced reach outside of Europe with the official diet book being translated into 14 languages, selling over eight million copies around the world.

Brand Spotlight: Dukan, France

As the name suggests, Dukan, produces a range of products that are specially formulated for followers of the Dukan diet, often enriched with required ingredients such as oat bran and konjac.

The product range contains both sweet and savoury items, including biscuits, snack bars, rice or noodle based ready meals, and other grab-and-go snacks.

You can view the range here

Paleo Diet

In the 1970s, gastroenterologist, Dr. Walter L Voegtlin, introduced the idea of the Paleolithic diet in his book, The Stone Age Diet, paving the way for similar diets such as the Caveman diet, the Hunter-Gatherer diet, and the most well-known Paleo diet.

The core principles of these diets are the same, whilst they vary in terms of restrictiveness and the foods that are allowed to be ingested as part of the overall diet.

Voegtlin pioneered the concept that we should learn from our ancestors and revert to a more natural way of eating, removing sugar, salt and processed foods from our diet. Instead focusing on lean proteins, lots of fruit and vegetables, and only consuming healthy fats in the form of nuts, seeds and natural oils.

Restrictions on the Paleo diet typically limit or omit the intake of dairy products, cereals, starchy vegetables, and sugar.

Now, the logic behind the Paleo diet does have its flaws since the foods that would have been available to our ancestors would have varied considerably depending on where in the world they resided. Our ancestors were also much more physically active than we are today. After all, if they wanted to eat then they had to hunt and gather, exerting much more energy than the sedentary lives we lead today.

Despite this, the Paleo diet has been proven to aid weight loss, as well as provide other benefits for those with digestive or inflammatory issues.

The Paleo diet is well known across Western Europe, North America and Australasia, however, many followers of the diet find it difficult to stick to when travelling or eating out due to its restrictive nature.

Brand Spotlight: 8Foods, United Kingdom

8Foods create products which are both Paleo and Keto friendly, maximising reach by targeting two popular weight loss diets in the UK at this time.

The selection of sweet and savoury snacks, cakes and breads have more of an artisan, homemade feel and prove very popular as gifts with 8Foods also selling hampers and other gifting items.

You can find out more about the brand here.

Plant-based Diet

In recent years the number of people shifting to a plant-based diet has dramatically increased, particularly in the United States and Europe. Typically this shift occurs for one of three reasons:

  1. To live a healthier lifestyle
  2. To counteract environmental issues
  3. To prevent animal cruelty

That being said, there are countries around the world, like India, where a plant-based diet is the norm.

When linked to a Vegan lifestyle the plant-based diet is part of an overall way of life, rather than a form of weight loss.

When people do reduce their intake of animal products then there is often a noticeable loss of weight and reduction in body mass index (BMI) when compared to other diets.

However, there are many processed, plant-based meat and dairy alternatives on the market so consumers looking to a plant-based diet for weight loss should not buy into these products which can often contain high-levels of salt or sugar, just like their animal-based counterparts.

Plant-based diets can also result in low levels of vital vitamins and minerals. If these are not carefully taken into consideration when planning meals then it means that additional supplements need to be taken to boost these levels as part of a balanced diet.

We can expect to see plant-based diets continue to grow in popularity around the world, regardless of whether this is for weight loss purposes or not. You can read more about global vegan diet trends here.

Brand Spotlight: YFood, Germany

Munich based start-up, yfood, provides meal replacement shakes and powders that are suitable for followers of a plant-based diet.

Supplying all essential nutrients, plus 26 vitamins and minerals, yfood’s shakes are targeted at consumers looking for both convenience and supplemental products to support overall weight loss and exercise.

You can find out more about the vegan range here.

Keto and Other Diets

There are many other diets that rise and fall in popularity, as well as those which reach further afield. One of the most popular is Keto.

The Ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs.

This dramatic reduction in carbohydrate intake puts the body into the metabolic state, ketosis, through which the body becomes highly efficient at burning fat. We’ve written a lot about Keto and recommend that you read more here.

The Keto diet is becoming increasingly popular in the Middle East, particularly the United Arab Emirates, which you can read about here.

Other weight loss diets include:

  • Intermittent fasting

  • The Atkins diet

  • The Mediterranean diet

  • WW (formerly Weight Watchers)

  • Noom

  • Slimming World

Some of these diets have been around for many years and have achieved traction around the world, typically as a result of the franchise models implemented by those paid subscription plans such as WW and Slimming World.

The chart below was produced by Euromonitor[1] using data collected in 2013, so although not the most up to date we can still see a selection of weight loss diets that were reported as being popular among consumers around the world at the time.

Brand Spotlight: Eva Bold, United Kingdom

Award-winning Keto brand, Eva Bold, delivers tasty protein packed keto-friendly snacks in the form of sweet snack bars and savoury bites.

With flavour profiles such as za’atar, black onion seed, and salted caramel. It’s no surprise why Eva Bold’s products are so popular in the Keto community. 

Check out what Eva Bold has to offer here.

Alternatives for Weight Loss

Weightless Supplements

According to research conducted by Grand View Research[1], the global weight loss supplements market size was valued at $33.4 billion USD in 2020 and is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.6% from 2021 to 2028.

Interestingly, Asia Pacific held the overall largest percentage of revenue at 45%, whilst North America is expected to record the fastest growing CAGR during the forecast period. In both cases, this is due to rising levels of obesity and health consciousness amongst local consumers.

The use of weight loss supplements is widely accepted in both the United States and Western Europe. With approximately 15% of US adults reporting that they have taken some form of dietary supplement in their lifetime, whilst 79% of Europeans are willing to pay for organic weight loss supplements to support overall wellbeing.

In terms of opportunities for supplement brands, both the powders and pills segments are proving to be the fastest growing, or most stable segments. Whilst marketing efforts should be focused on the 18 to 40 year old demographic.

As an example, here’s a growth projection for the US weight loss supplement market for 2018 to 2028.


Weightless Surgery

Before we wrap up this article, we wanted to take a moment to mention an extreme weight loss alternative, which is continuing to rise in popularity around the world, and that is weight loss surgery, or bariatric surgery.

Unfortunately, the number of people resorting to invasive surgery to tackle weight loss is increasing. And, we’re talking about the private sector here, which is making bariatric surgery more accessible thanks to medical tourism.

Rather than try alternatives such as the diets we have mentioned above, people are choosing instead to go through surgical procedures to tackle weight loss issues which medical professionals may not consider debilitating or life threatening.

By promoting healthier lifestyles, providing nutritional education, and producing food and beverage products such as those we have featured above, we believe that health and wellness brands around the globe can help tackle obesity and reduce the number of people resorting to such extreme measures.

The weight loss market is very fickle and changes rapidly so it can be hard to stay ahead of the trend, and the competition.

As we’ve seen, some of these diets are considered “fads” which quickly come and go, whilst others, like the Atkins diet, take years to gain traction in certain markets.

That being said, there will always be opportunities for weight loss food, beverage and supplement brands. It is reported that in the United States alone, people spend over $60 billion USD each year to lose weight, including gym memberships and diet programs!

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