From weight loss to wellness: WW and others shift

In another Instagram post, Hudson, who gave birth to a baby girl a few months ago, mentioned a goal of losing 25 pounds before shooting a movie in the spring.

Reaction to Hudson as the newest face of the brand — WW’s other celebrity spokespeople have included Jennifer Hudson and DJ Khaled — was met with skepticism.

The global wellness industry hit $4 trillion this year, reports Quartz, so WW’s shift is understandable. But it runs the risk of alienating longtime members who aren’t fans of its new approach.

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Overall, consumers have become skeptical of diets and their associated products: Research firm Mintel has found that 77 percent of consumers feel diet products are not as healthy as they claim, and 61 percent believe most diets aren’t healthy.

Low-fat and fat-free have fallen out of favor as more consumers turn to high protein or probiotics, while society has begun to embrace body positivity and healthy coming in different shapes and sizes.

“People are changing … the age of dieting was all about society imposing what you ‘should’ look like, and people telling you what to eat. And now we are moving into an age of wellness,” Gail Tifford, WW’s chief brand officer, told MarketWatch.

The Washington Post points out “diet” and “weight” are absent from WW’s current vision statement.

Researchers have found the majority of people don’t see sustained weight loss or health benefits from dieting; for some, it only leads to an eating disorder, per The Washington Post.

With wellness in mind, there are other changes in store. WW, which has more than 4 million members, has partnered with fitness app Aaptiv, so WW Freestyle members can access digital workouts and sync them with Fitpoints, per Cooking Light. The revamped FitPoints 2.0 encourages activity that’s most beneficial for each member, according to a WW news release.

The company also is working with mediation and mindfulness app Headspace, “to help members maintain a positive mindset,” and Connect Groups, that offer a social element with other members via the app.

“Our new partnerships and digital innovations will revolutionize the way people experience WW Freestyle, allowing for a more personalized, holistic wellness ecosystem. The products, experiences and programs we continue to provide help people build healthy behaviors that fit into their lives and advance our goal of making wellness accessible to all,” Mindy Grossman, president and CEO of WW, said in the news release.

WW isn’t alone in shifting its focus. Tivity Health Inc. is buying weight loss company Nutrisystem — which owns the South Beach Diet brand as well — for $1.3 billion. Tivity runs fitness program SilverSneakers.

“We believe combining our two companies will create entirely new value propositions for our health plans, fitness partners, members and consumers,” Tivity Health CEO Donato Tramuto said.

Nutrisystem CEO Dawn Zier – who will become Tivity Health president and COO, said focusing on personalized nutrition and flexibility, among other things, should help the company “return to meaningful growth in 2019.”

South Beach Diet has announced it’s launching a new keto-friendly program in 2019, capitalizing on the trendy high-fat, low-carb diet.

The $69 billion CVS Health/Aetna merger will add health services that focus on chronic conditions to some CVS stores, and the company’s CEO, Larry Merlo, has said customers can expect to see a greater focus on more data-driven and individualized healthcare, reports CNBC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Americans are getting fatter. More than 97 million people are obese, which is expected to increase by almost 3 percent each year on average. New drugs to combat obesity are expected to hit the market in 2026, per CNBC.

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