Overweight People - Psychographics

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Overweight People - Psychographics

Key Takeaways

  • While data on the overweight population that is highly motivated to lose weight is extremely scarce, the majority of the report is based on data-backed assumptions that most people trying to lose weight are overweight and that selected behaviors (e.g., high engagement in weight loss programs) demonstrate high motivation.
  • Overweight Americans prioritize family and relationships with their significant other. Losing weight is the third most important value, followed by friendship, maintaining weight, adequate sleep, and a healthy lifestyle.
  • Overweight people who prioritize losing weight are likely to be lured by new, radical diets and have a poor understanding of portion control.


This report provides a psychographic profile of overweight people who are highly motivated to lose weight, including factors such as their motivations, habits, values, and needs. As data on the topic is extremely limited, we needed to make several assumptions to create the profile. They were explained in the section below.

Limitations and Assumptions

  • Psychographic data on overweight people who are highly motivated to lose weight is extremely limited in the public domain, including across reports, surveys, research papers, and government publications. The most direct information we found comes from customer segmentation by Insights to Action, a market research company. According to the article, three customer groups that appear the most motivated to lose weight are "Weight Challenged," "Informed Healthy Dieters," and "Image Driven Dieters." We have prioritized data for the first group, as it only includes overweight people (for whom losing weight is the most important goal).
  • When looking for sources to corroborate the findings from the article, we have also discovered that 73.6% of all adult Americans are obese, according to the most recent (2018) data by CDC.
  • Additionally, we found that in the US, 66.7% of obese people are trying to lose weight, compared to 49% of overweight people, and 26.5% of those who have a healthy weight or are underweight.
  • Given the scarcity of data on highly-motivated members of the overweight segment, we decided to include data on all people in the US who are highly motivated to lose weight. Based on the overall share of the population who is overweight and the data showing that obese and overweight account for the majority of those trying to lose weight, we assumed that reports and surveys with a broader focus are reflective of overweight Americans specifically.
  • We also made some assumptions related to the concept of high motivation, which are explained in relevant sections (e.g., we assumed that high engagement with a weight loss program is connected to high motivation).


  • As per an analysis by Insights to Action, overweight people who have significant weight to lose, are primarily motivated by health, lifestyle, and appearance. It is worth noting that while they are strongly motivated to lose weight and see it as their life priority, their motivation may fluctuate due to many unsuccessful attempts to lose weight, though it spikes when they find a new method that promises to bring rapid results.
  • Another customer segments, "Image Driven Dieters," of whom about three-fourths are overweight, are primarily driven by appearance.
  • Furthermore, a study published in The Obesity Society found that people who lost significant weight and maintained the loss for a long time were triggered to lose weight by five overarching factors, which are "medical status, appearance, mobility, social prompts, and change needed."
  • A 2019 study, published in Obesity Science and Practice, suggests that the levels of motivation may be higher for people who are driven by appearance, even though they tend to achieve worse results. Specifically, it concluded that those who were motivated by appearance were more engaged in weight loss programs, which suggests their higher motivation.
  • However, for additional context, the most current research shows that more people are motivated by health reasons, though the level of their motivation is unknown. For instance, according to Mayo Clinic, the current trend that drives people the most on the weight loss journey is prioritizing health benefits. 83% of their survey's respondents said health was their main motivator, around five times more than those who cited appearance. The study concluded that intrinsic motivations are superior compared to external factors.
  • As per a Harris Poll survey, 73% of Americans seeking to lose weight cited the desire to be healthy as their primary motivation. Another survey revealed that 40% of Americans want to lose weight to feel comfortable in their skin, while 32% want to feel confident about their bodies in bathing suits.

Habits and Behaviors

  • According to Insights to Action, overweight people who prioritize losing weight are likely to be lured by new, radical diets and have a poor understanding of portion control. They share this quality with appearance-driven dieters (of whom around 73% are overweight).
  • In contrast, another consumer group that mostly consists of overweight people and is highly motivated to lose weight, "Informed Healthy Dieters," focuses on a more long-term approach. Its members are well-informed about trends related to weight loss, healthy eating and lifestyle, and similar. They prefer long-term solutions to quick "miracle" diets. They are also more interested in structured weight loss programs.
  • According to YPulse, among younger consumers (especially females) who gained significant weight during the pandemic and prioritize losing it over other wellness goals, low carb, low calorie, and intermittent fasting are the preferred diet regimens.
  • Overall, weight loss is the fourth most important goal for Gen Zers and millennials. It is worth noting that the first and third priorities, based on the same survey, may also be related to the issue, as they are physical activity and keto diet.


  • Family relationships are the primary value for weight loss-focused overweight Americans, as well as for other weight loss-oriented segments that mostly consist of overweight people, i.e., appearance-motivated dieters and "informed healthy dieters."
  • "Weight-challenged" Americans also prioritize relationships with their significant other, while losing weight is the third most important value, followed by friendship, maintaining weight, adequate sleep, and a healthy lifestyle (as per the chart below).
  • The chart also shows that "informed healthy dieters," who are focused on long-term changes to lose weight, cite healthy eating and healthy lifestyle as the second and third most important value in their lives.


  • According to Insights to Action, customer segments that are the most focused on weight loss–and either overweight or mostly overweight–need food options with higher protein content and more fiber content, in terms of the products they would be interested in.
  • While there is no further direct information on needs (on any other factor), we made assumptions explained below to provide additional information.
  • Maintaining high motivation for weight loss may also require supportive interactions with healthcare practitioners, based on a study published in Stigma and Health, which concluded that obese patients who had such interactions displayed higher motivation.
  • Overweight people also appear to need new methods to try to maintain their motivation in losing weight. About 74% of them would try a new exercise routine, 65% would change their eating habits, 55% would consider diet changes to ketogenic or Paleo, and 38% would make lifestyle changes.
  • Several sources suggest that staying motivated on the weight loss journey is challenging without a strong support system. A study published in the Journal of Medical Informatics found that encouragement was especially necessary, with 87.6% citing it as the most important form of support.

Research Strategy

We searched reports (e.g., by YPulse), surveys (e.g., by Mayo Clinic), articles (e.g., by CNN), and research papers (e.g., published by Wiley and NCBI) on overweight people, targeting those focused on the highly motivated subsegment. However, we found very limited data that exactly answers the question. The vast majority of the available sources address the effectiveness of weight loss efforts depending on motivation, key drivers for weight loss, or the overall psychographics of overweight people. Therefore, to provide more comprehensive findings on the requested group, we made several data-backed assumptions, including (1.) that most people that are highly motivated to lose weight are overweight and (2.) that factors such as high engagement with weight loss programs or naming weight loss as a top life goal are related to high motivation.

In selected cases, we provided examples from specific subgroups within the relevant segment (e.g., young adults who are highly motivated to lose weight), which was also dictated by data availability. While most of the sources used are from the last 24 months, selected older studies were included to provide more robust findings.

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