Europe's $100 billion market for slimming products just keeps on swelling--and it's not just the food manufacturers who are getting fatter.
Research from analysts Datamonitor showed last week that fewer than one dieter in 50 achieves permanent weight loss, even though each year dieters in the European Union spend the equivalent of the economic output of Morocco in the effort.
Datamonitor estimates that 231 million people in the European Union attempted a diet in 2002, but less than four million will succeed in keeping their new, trimmer figures for more than a year.
Whether it's the German fondness for sausages and beer or the fact that it is Western Europe's most populous nation, the German market for slimming products is Europe's largest, weighing in at 19.55 billion euros last year.
Meanwhile, Britons combat their obsession for fish and chips with 15.6 billion euros worth of diet products, and the gourmets of Italy and France spend 14.1 billion and 13.8 billion euros respectively on eating themselves thin.
The sheer scale and complete failure of this costly battle to get slim is not down to shortcomings in the products themselves but to the unrealistic expectations of the consumer, Datamonitor said.
Most of the slimming products flying off the shelves of the continent's supermarkets and drugstores take the form of fat-reduced versions of ordinary foodstuffs, with liquid meal replacements and the like accounting for just a small part.
But although low-fat milk, porous bread and odd-tasting chocolate bars now make up a significant proportion of the average European shopping basket, growth in the total slimming market is estimated at just 1.7% per year over the coming five years.
Consequently, producers--and not least the retailers--need to educate consumers that it's not enough just to spend a month or two on the low-calorie, high-margin products, but that they actually must change their lifestyles.
The message that dieters need to receive is that a diet alone is not a long-term solution to excessive weight. Manufacturers could use more accurate information to create brand loyalty for their other ranges.
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