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The weight loss industry is in flux.
Collective stress-related eating during the 2020 pandemic might have led to triggering “quarantine 15” memes and 42% of US adults reporting unwanted weight gain, but the consumer weight loss industry didn’t reap any related benefits.
In March, a new market report estimated that the industry, which reached a record $78 billion valuation in 2019, declined by 21% last year to $62 million. However, the report said it expected to see the industry rebound in 2021, spurred by pent-up demand and pandemic-related weight gain.
Providing products and services from prepared meal plans to medical care-related weight loss options, the weight loss industry’s reputation has changed significantly in recent years due to a widespread shift towards body acceptance and away from fat-shaming and promotion of disordered eating habits.
Meanwhile, healthcare professionals remain divided on whether to tell people with obesity to lose weight. The BMI, which determines whether patients are overweight or obese, is no longer considered the only body composition-related health standard.
Now, a new wave of direct-to-consumer digital weight loss companies think they can win users and get more Americans to lose weight. Although they each have different approaches, experts told Insider they largely use the same behavioral psychology principles that have been used for decades, only delivered via mobile apps.
Experts say tech approaches to weight loss use the same principles as traditional options
By avoiding traditional diet language in how they sell their app-based services to potential users, companies like Noom, Lifesum, Calibrate, and Wellory have managed to secure a combined $169 million in venture capital funding.
Noom, the largest venture-backed digital weight loss startup, said it had raised $115 million to date via company spokesperson. The company operates via free and paid subscription tiers, starting with ad-supported access to a calorie counter that grades food on a stoplight color system and weight loss articles, with higher-tier premium memberships giving users the ability to message Noom health coaches.
In 2020, company reported it had over 45 million users, according to CEO Artem Petakov, who was featured in Insider’s list of 30 healthcare leaders under 40.
“Weight is the foundation of health, and it is a large and proven market,” the company said via email.
Lifesum, a competing digital weight loss startup, has raised $22 million to date, primarily from European venture funds. The Stockholm-based company expanded to the US in 2019. Similar to Noom, …read more
Source:: Business Insider