Does America Diet Differently Than Other Countries?

HealthGal Health Guide
  •   A recent diet report by Euromonitor International looked at what diet trends are popular in countries worldwide, who is doing the dieting, and which regions are showing escalating rates of obesity.  Euromonitor polled its network of analysts in over 80 countries worldwide to answer these and other questions.


    About half of consumers over age 14, in developed markets including the United States, are overweight or obese.  Developing nations are beginning to showcase obesity trends, despite also having significant populations without access to enough food.  The middle class in particular seems to have a serious problem with overeating, because of disposable incomes and because of increased Westernization, especially when it comes to food options like fast food.  When waist size increases among a significant part of the population, interest in dieting seems to follow.   The diets that are trending heavily in the United States and similar countries, like England, may be known in other countries, but may not catch on with the same fervor.  In fact, a diet like Atkin’s seems to have great visibility in countries worldwide, and yet less than one fifth of the populace in many of the countries analyzed actually embrace the diet.  Weight Watchers, on the other hand, which has been around for decades, is well known and popular worldwide.

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    So to understand the differences, the analysts analyzed each diet in two different ways : how well known it is, and how many consumers consider it popular, globally.

    • Atkins ranked over 50% in recognition, but got an “under 20%” popularity rating
    • Weight Watchers ranked at about 50% in recognition, and almost 40% in popularity
    • SlimFast had about 385 in recognition, but only 8% in popularity
    • The Mediterranean-style diet had about 26% in recognition, but only 14% in popularity
    • South Beach Diet had about 22% in recognition, but less than 5% in popularity
    • The Dukan Diet had an 18% recognition, and about a 16% popularity rating
    • Jenny Craig had an 18% recognition, and about a 5% popularity rating
    • The Fast Diet, a recent heavily trending favorite in the UK and the US, had a 16% recognition, and a 10% popularity rating
    • The Paleo Diet had 16% recognition, and a 10% popularity rating
    • Diets that registered under 5% in both recognition and popularity were the DASH diet, McKenna diet, TLC diet and the Ornish diet.

    In terms of specifics, Weight Watchers seems to hold the number one position globally in popularity, which basically means that the diet transcends cultural differences.  It was founded in the 1960s, and is embraced in the US as well as in European and Latin countries.  Jenny Craig, quite popular in the US, has not achieved similar status abroad.   The Fast Diet, which recommends two days of very low calorie intake (500 calories) and The Dukan Diet, a high protein diet popularized by consumers in France and was the pre-wedding diet chosen by Kate Middleton’s mother, are much more popular in Europe compared to elsewhere (including the US).  So when you look at a chart that analyzes popularity, Weight Watchers scores high in the US, Canada and the Caribbean, is also pretty popular in Europe and Latin America, and even came close to a 10% rating in the Asia-Pacific region.  For Americans, next in order of popularity were: Paleo, Jenny Craig, Mediterranean, Atkin’s, South Beach and Fast Diet, SlimFast and finally The Dukan Diet.  For European nations (after Weight Watchers) the order was: Dukan, Atkin’s and Fast diets, Mediterranean, SlimFast and then Paleo.


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    Obesity rates are expected to continue to climb globally, which means that a burgeoning diet and weight management industry will grow as well.   One opportunity might be to partner with already existing and popular food brands to create diet foods or a plan that incorporates calorie counting including the most popular foods the manufacturer offers in different catagories.  In some countries, trying to float an entirely new brand or dieting concept could otherwise be quite challenging.  Global food giants include Kraft, Heinz, and General Mills.  There is also ample opportunity for online services and apps, since many people are time-challenged.  The battle of the bulge will march on……


    Amy Hendel is a health professional, journalist and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What’s for Lunch?  Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and The 4 Habits of Healthy Families, she tweets health headlines daily @HealthGal1103.  Catch her past guest appearances on Marie! at and other local and national news and talk shows








Published On: August 20, 2013