According to Mintel Consumer Intelligence report The US Diet Aids Report, teenagers are a significant market segment for the diet aids market, with some 14% of teen dieters use meal replacements, and 6% use diet pills.

The findings of Mintel's report show that overall, fewer than one in 10 U.S. teenagers are on a diet to lose weight. But teenage girls are more than four times as likely as teenage boys to be dieting. Dieting is most common among teenagers aged 16 and 17, but almost 5% of America's 12-year-olds say that they are on a diet.

It is surprising to find that black teenagers are almost twice as likely as all teenagers in the U.S. to be dieting to lose weight. Among adult Americans, blacks are less likely than whites or Hispanics to say they are dieting. Among teenagers who are dieting, girls are more likely than boys to use meal replacements and teenage girls who diet are almost four times more likely than dieting teenage boys to use diet pills.

The majority of Americans are overweight, and the share of Americans who are obese increased from 12% to 20% during the 1990s. Shockingly, the percentage of Hispanic Americans who are obese has more than doubled in the past ten years. African-Americans are much more likely to be obese than are other racial and ethic groups. Some 29% of blacks were obese in 2000, compared with 23% of Hispanics, 19% of non-Hispanics whites, and 12% of Asians and members of other races.

A complicated web of behaviors and products affect the market for diet pills and meal replacements, including exercise, television viewing, consumption of fatty foods, access to healthcare, an expanding range of choices in dieting products, and media images that equate a slender physique with popularity and power. The bottom line is an increase in the proportion of Americans who are dieting or trying to maintain their weight. Manufacturers are serving this market with a dizzying variety of new products, some of which are marketed with outlandish product claims.

Total revenues from the Diet Aids market increased 159% between 1996 and 2001, with sales growing from $753 million to $1,947 million. The total market for weight-loss products and services, which includes prescription weight-loss drugs, diet soft drinks and health clubs, was $34.5 billion in 2000. Diet Aids? share of this market represents 5.1% of the total.

The report indicates that more than one in five U.S. adult respondents say they are dieting to lose weight. Yet more than one in four women say they are dieters, compared with about one in seven men.

Research findings show that about 16% of U.S. dieting adults are taking diet pills, and that about 12% of dieters use meal replacement products. This suggests that of the 208 million adults in the U.S. in 2000, about 45 million are dieting and some 5 million are using meal replacements and 7 million are using diet pills.

Women are twice as likely as men to take diet pills, and younger adults are much more likely than older adults to take them, according to Mintel's exclusive consumer research. Yet women and men are equally likely to use meal replacement products.

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