Rethinking the Weight-Management Market

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Innovation
There’s plenty in this category to help people looking to manage their weight or drop some holiday pounds. Our experts pinpointed innovations that can address both weight and health. One major upcoming trend in this area, according to Sugarek MacDonald: “The newest and hottest products in this category are going to include those with apple cider vinegar. For instance, a clinical trial completed in Japan investigated the effects of vinegar intake on reducing body fat mass in obese Japanese men and women in a double-blind trial. The vinegar used in this trial contained 4-8% acetic acid, the same concentration found in Bluebonnet’s Apple Cider Vinegar Vegetable Capsules. During the 12-week treatment period, the subjects in each group ingested 500 ml daily of a beverage containing either 15 ml of vinegar (750 mg AcOH), 30 ml of vinegar (1,500 mg AcOH), or 0 ml of vinegar (0 mg AcOH, placebo). Bodyweight, visceral fat area, waist circumference, and serum triglyceride levels were significantly lower in both vinegar intake groups than placebo. The authors concluded that daily intake of vinegar might be useful in preventing metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity. While the research is limited, customers are flocking to websites and the stores for the latest and greatest.

Another approach: Microbiome modulators. “Offering a much more natural approach to weight management, prebiotic and dietary fiber blends, probiotics and postbiotics are all solutions that can help consumers maintain a healthy weight,” explains Steven Riley, Director of Marketing and Consumer Sales at OptiBiotix Health Plc. “Prebiotic dietary fibers in combination with a trace mineral like chromium, for instance, have been proven to reduce body weight, while aiding sustainable weight loss. Our multi-award-winning SlimBiome has demonstrated this in its latest scientific study conducted by the University of Roehampton. When SlimBiome was taken for just four weeks, it led to significantly reduced body weight by an average of 1.9kg, body fat percentage, waist and hip circumference, and systolic blood pressure. In addition, participants showed a reduction in sweet cravings, a statistically significant reduction in savory cravings, and statistically significant positive impact on mood and gut microbiome composition.”

Muhammed Majeed, Ph.D., Chairman and Founder, Sabinsa, notes three new ingredients Sabinsa is offering in this category. “Cirpusins nutgrass root—Cyperus rotundus—supports a healthy body mass index. It is well-known in Ayurveda for various health benefits, ranging from antimicrobial, anti-convulsant, anti-platelet activity, analgesic, and anti-ulcer, but the activity that caught our interest is anti-obesity. The second ingredient, CurCousin, Sabinsa’s branded ingredient containing Calebin A, is a curcumin analog naturally present in Curcuma longa and Curcuma caesia. It helps balance cholesterol and support healthy blood sugar levels and circulation. It also supports a healthy body weight by inhibiting adipogenesis, fat cells. The third product, Nigellin, is a product enriched with thymoquinone and thymohydroquinone, isolated from the seeds of Nigella sativa, commonly known as black cumin seed. Nigellin is formulated to enhance the many therapeutic benefits of black cumin seeds. Modern clinical trials have sufficient evidence to show that Black Seed or its extracts, essential oil, or major components can lower blood pressure, relieve oxidative stress, lower fasting and postprandial glucose in diabetics, improve mitochondrial function, and more. Nigellin was awarded a U.S. patent for its use in decreasing blood glucose levels by inhibiting the enzyme involved in carbohydrate digestion and absorption, and increasing glucose uptake by the cells, indicating a potential use in managing diabetes and related conditions.”

Combo products, too, are an area of burgeoning innovation. “Another trend we are seeing is the inclusion of weight management ingredients in new categories of health-supporting products,” says Fink. “This is particularly the case in active/sports nutrition where today, most major pre-workout or daily use products feature a weight management component. We don’t see why weight management can’t team up with other condition-specific products—like joint health or cardio health—moving into the future.”

That holistic viewpoint is being taken up in other areas, as well—Riley points to some behavioral health measures: “A major weight loss brand, for instance, has recently launched its new platform application that helps its customers manage stress and anxiety. Personalized health is still an upcoming area, but it is one that the weight management industry is beginning to reap the benefits from.”

Seconding that, Fink adds: “One trend that we see with leading weight management companies is a focus on the ‘whole person’ and not just the ‘dieter’ in developing weight management products and weight management regimens. We call this ‘smart weight management’—that, first, recommends diet and exercise as an integral part of weight management and then addresses a range of concerns for the target demographic.”

One example of the wide-open space that is personalization: senior citizens. “There is a good deal of evidence that seniors can use help in managing their weight,” Fink says. “The concerns of this population are specific, though, so it is important to keep the end-user in mind when formulating products. Are there certain nutrients that a specific demographic might need? Those nutrients might be important to include in a weight management supplement. For example, when developing a weight management product for seniors, it is important to consider issues like maintaining muscle mass and blood sugar management. And yet, if one were to Google ‘senior’ and ‘weight management’—most of the products that will come up are designed for dogs. Across every demographic, there are opportunities to be ‘smart’ about formulating weight management products that target the needs of the ‘whole person’ and not just the ‘dieter.’”

Other innovation is coming from delivery format. “Energy drops, protein shake powders that relieve stress, and weight-loss drinks are increasingly replacing sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices,” says Gencor’s McNamara. “Functional Foods have taken over and this is where weight management manufacturers have an opportunity. Manufacturers in the weight management market are boosting their output capacities in cumin tea and protein shake powders that help to keep the stomach feeling satisfied. Fat burner and energy drops for women can help to relieve stress, promote weight loss, and naturally suppress appetite. Herbal formulas in powerful blends of African mango, maca, and rhodiola are gaining prominence in energy drop products.”

And fat burners themselves are a draw. One option: Diem Direct offers Omne Diem, which combines the company’s exclusive Adiposano complex with aXivite phenylcapsaicin. aXivite has been shown to help burn fat and control appetite, while Adiposano has been found to modulate pro-inflammatory compounds, thereby promoting joint comfort and metabolic health, according to the company.

Your Edge Over Amazon
“It’s smart for retailers to make sure that the products they stock and recommend to their customers be clinically validated as well as delivering the desired benefits,” said Dr. Majeed, “and contain the amounts of the ingredients that research shows delivers those benefits.”

While most independent retailers already do this, it’s getting easier to use it to your advantage. While Amazon is upping its standards, the platform still has on offer a variety of products that no self-respecting retailer would ever sell. For instance, NOW Foods has tested products on Amazon, looking at specific ingredients and testing whether or not they meet label claims and heavy metal specifications. The latest results were posted in October, looking at Glutathione. Out of 19 brands, two tested high for heavy metals, three didn’t meet label claim, and one didn’t even have a label claim—and the amount of glutathione it did contain was 19-22mg, as found by NOW and Eurofins respectively, compared to the 500mg contained in NOW’s product. Commenting on the findings, Dan Richard, NOW’s VP of Global Sales and Marketing, stated: “The quality of these lesser-known brands purchased on Amazon is greatly improved, but we are still finding unacceptable lapses.” NOW has tested several other ingredients, as well, and previous tests have produced worse results. All of this suggests that while you may have a smaller selection than Amazon, or even may not carry a customer’s preferred brand, what you do have—and can sell—is a quality control process that prevents those unacceptable lapses.

Plus, vetting products—and making it clear to your customers that you do—can help you make up for what you may not have: online reviews. “Online reviews and recommendations are either making or breaking a company’s brand image on popular eCommerce websites including Amazon,” shares McNamara. If you can guarantee to your customers that your products are all high-quality and scientifically backed, you knock out most of the need for online reviews. Quality is one of the best tools in your anti-Amazon toolbox. WF

 

References

  1. Jeffrey M. Hunger, Joslyn P. Smith, A. Janet Tomiyama, “An Evidence-Based Rationale for Adopting Weight-Inclusive Health Policy,” Social Issues and Policy Review. 14(1). 73-107(2020). DOI: 10.1111/sipr.12062 https://jeffreyhunger.com/uploads/3/4/4/8/34481134/hunger_smith___tomiyama__2020__-_sipr.pdf
  2. Your Fat Friend, “The Bizarre and Racist History of the BMI,” Elemental. Posted 10/15/2019. Accessed 11/01/2021. https://elemental.medium.com/the-bizarre-and-racist-history-of-the-bmi-7d8dc2aa33bb
  3. Alissa Rumsey, “5 Reasons Why BMI is Totally Bonkers,” AllissaRumsey.com. Posted 12/07/2020. Accessed 11/01/2021. https://alissarumsey.com/the-problem-with-the-bmi/
  4. Katherine M. Flegal et al, “Association of All-Cause Mortality with Overweight and Obesity Using Standard Body Mass Index Categories.” JAMA. 309(1). 71-82(2013). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4855514/
  5. A.J. Tomiyama et al., “Misclassification of cardiometabolic health when using body mass index categories in NHANES 2005-2012,” International Journal of Obesity. 40(5). 883-6(2016). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26841729/
  6. The Endocrine Society, “Widely Used Body Fat Measurements Overestimate Fatness in African-Americans, Study Finds,” ScienceDaily press release. Posted 6/22/2009. Accessed 11/01/2021. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611142407.htm