45% of people globally are currently trying to lose weight

More than half of the global population would rather exercise more and/or eat more healthily, but not diet as the actions they would take when trying to lose weight. But from a dietary perspective, sugar is seen as the main component that people would look to reduce or eliminate to help with weight loss.

A new global study carried out across 30 countries, finds 45% of people globally say that they are currently trying to lose weight. This figure increases to two-thirds (60%) of people in Chile who are trying to lose weight and more than 50% in Spain, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the USA.

For those looking to lose weight just over half (52% globally) would exercise more and eat more healthily, but not diet to achieve their goal. However, 4 in 10 (44%) did say that they would take action to reduce their food intake/diet.

  • About two-thirds of those looking to lose weight in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and the Netherlands would eat more healthily, but not diet. In China, three quarters (77%) of people looking to lose weight would use exercise to help them help with weight loss.
  • After exercise, healthy eating and dieting, 38% of those trying to lose weight globally would drink fewer sugary drinks (this increases to more than 50% in Hungary, Malaysia and South Africa).
  • 15% globally say they would drink less alcohol. Reducing alcohol intake (for those looking to lose weight) increases to about a quarter of the population in Great Britain (25%), Australia (23%), Belgium (23%), South Korea (25%), Russia (26%) and South Africa (24%).

When looking specifically at dietary intake, sugar is the main factor that people globally would look to reduce or eliminate from their diet in order to help with weight loss. This is followed by calories.

  • For those actively looking to lose weight, two-thirds (62%) of people globally say that sugar is the factor in their diet that they would try to reduce or eliminate to help with weight loss. This percentage increases to more than 70% in Hungary, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Turkey and South Africa.
  • After Sugar, calories (41%) is the other factor that people globally (looking to lose weight) would look to try and reduce in their diet. This increases to 50% or more in China, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.
  • Just behind calories is carbohydrates, which 39% of those looking to lose weight would reduce or eliminate from their diet – this is followed by processed foods (31%) and saturated fats (28%).
  • It seems that the difference between good and bad fats is now well understood as only 5% of people globally said that unsaturated fats is something they would reduce/eliminate from their diet to help with weight loss.
  • Alcohol was only mentioned by 16% of people globally as something to reduce or eliminate to help with weight loss but this percentage increases to a quarter of the population or higher in Russia, Poland and South Korea.

Of twelve possible initiatives, that companies and governments could do to help people to lose weight, 4 in 10 of the global population (who are actively looking to lose weight) said cheaper healthy food would be the most helpful. This response was significantly ahead of any of the other proposed initiatives.

  • Globally 4 in 10 (42%), who are looking to lose weight, believe that cheaper health foods would help them lose weight. This percentage increases to around two-thirds of the population in Hungary, Israel and South Africa.
  • One fifth of the population globally (22%) believe more green public spaces for exercising would help them to lose weight. This figure increase to more than 40% for people in China and Saudi Arabia.
  • More public exercise facilities are also considered to be an initiative which would help people lose weight by 18% of the global population (who are looking to lose weight). Notably this percentage increases to a third of the population in China (36%) and South Korea (31%).
  • A similar percentage (17%) think easier access to healthier food would help with weight loss, increasing to about a third of the population in Argentina (36%) and Chile (30%).
  • Clearer food labelling is believed to be an initiative that 13% of the global population think would help with weight loss and this increases to 23% in Germany.

After this, initiatives such as clearer food nutritional labelling (13%), new products which are designed to be healthier (12%), healthier ingredients in processed foods (11%) and weight management services (9%) are supported by approximately 1 in 10 of the population globally (who are trying to lose weight).

The data for this research was collected via Ipsos' Global Advisor from October 23rd to November 6th, 2020. In total 22,008 interviews were conducted between October 23rd and November 6th 2020 among adult consumers. The survey was conducted in 30 markets around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

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