Weight Watchers/Keto Diet

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Weight Watchers - Consumer Sentiment: United States

The Weight Watchers program is large as has many adherents and members, many of whom cheerlead for the brand and support it vociferously. Outside of its base, however, the brand has provoked a mixture of reactions. In particular, its ads have been criticized for over-aggrandizing beauty and being too narrow in their depictions of health and women's issues. Their meetings can run into difficulties if meeting leaders are not charismatic and dynamic enough. The brand's association with Oprah is clearly an asset, but some view the brand's association with Kate Hudson as unsuccessful.

WEIGHT WATCHERS ADVERTISING

Public reactions to Weight Watchers' advertising could best be described as mixed-to-negative. Numerous articles dissect Weight Watchers' commercials with criticisms of their depictions of women, health and food. This article describes a particular ad as "compelling and revolting." The ad's author is not a member of the Weight Watchers program, but describes his reaction to the ad as confused. He argues that the target audience - people seeking to lose weight - might feel offended since the ad seems to poke fun at their plight.

This article contains a list of 10 reasons why Oprah's Weight Watchers commercials are "the worst." The list explores the ads' unstated assumption that a woman's worth is tied to her beauty. It mentions the way being thin can hold a strong lure, but makes no mention of the time and money burden imposed by the Weight Watchers program. The list directly challenges the implied assumption that Weight Watchers can make people happy or address the underlying causes of extra weight. In a separate article by AdWeek, a Weight Watchers short film addressing the causes of weight gain is pointed to as "Ad of the Day," but upon analysis described the movie as "unremarkable."

WEIGHT WATCHERS MEETINGS

Public feelings about Weight Watchers meetings are more diverse. Opinions are more positive on the whole than opinions on Weight Watchers' advertising, but do contains some criticisms. Some members describe the meetings and the meetings' leaders as "amazing." These members feel the meetings are emotionally satisfying and full of helpful information that supports their weight loss goals.

Others have left meetings early, complaining that leaders were uninspiring and dull, simply quoting the content of pamphlets. The theme of poor leadership dragging down the quality of meetings shows up more than once in discussions of Weight Watchers Meetings. One member offers a mixed review, describing herself as too uncomfortable around people to gain any personal benefit from meetings, but she also encourages more social program members to attend. She asserts that weekly meetings may be useful for those who seek extra support.

WEIGHT WATCHERS CELEBRITY INVOLVEMENT

The two most high-profile celebrity spokespeople of Weight Watchers are Oprah and Kate Hudson. Overall, Oprah is and remains a well-received spokesperson for the brand, but Kate Hudson's involvement went poorly. Oprah's struggle with her weight is seen as relatable. Even in an article critical of the company and her ads, she comes out well and her association with the brand is received positively. Kate Hudson's story was not well-received and her story was viewed as unrelatable. In particular, her apparent "abs of steel" that she showed off right after having a baby hurt the public's ability to see themselves in her.

CONCLUSION

Weight Watchers is a large program with a long history. It has supporters and detractors and its past has both successes and failures in cultivating public perception. That stated, its advertising does not seem to have adapted well to recent trends in public expectations around feminism and health. Weight Watchers meetings seem to be hit or miss and highly dependent on the quality of meeting leadership. Oprah continues to be an effective spokesperson for the brand, but Weight Watchers' association with Kate Hudson went poorly.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Keto Diet - Consumer Sentiment: United States

Even though resources that directly addressed the research criteria were unavailable in the public domain, we were able to find a significant amount of information in regard to consumers and the ketogenic diet. For instance, in 2017, registered dietitian Kristen Kirkpatrick tried the keto diet for 30 days and noted that at the end she experienced weight loss, better fitting clothes, and she had more satiation instead of hunger because of the high fat content of the diet. However, Kirkpatrick did note that at the beginning she experienced challenges that included irritability and tiredness, maintaining a low protein intake, constipation, and finding keto appropriate foods while on the road or when eating out. Our research methodology and findings follows below.

METHODOLOGY

We began research by looking for surveys around the subject of diets in general and ketogenic diets specifically. While there are surveys and studies that generally address the health benefits or lack thereof of ketogenic diets, there were none that specifically addressed how consumers feel about such diets. We believe this is because keto is a niche area that has not yet been addressed by the general population in a significant way. We also looked through specific sources such as Pew Research and this led to the discovery of a general article on consumer attitudes towards fat, but this strategy did not lead to any specific consumer statistics or information on ketogenic diets. However, we were able to find a 2018 Food and Health Survey that highlighted the popularity of the ketogenic diet among consumers.

Next, we searched for articles that contained reviews on customer attitudes towards the ketogenic diet from news sources such as Forbes and Women's Health and educational research websites such as Harvard. We were able to find many articles that contained insights from experts such as doctors and nutritionists including their thoughts regarding the ketogenic diet, but nothing specifically highlighted consumer thoughts. The reason behind this could be that the concern is more about the health of doing a ketogenic diet over who is doing it and why.

Lastly, we broadened our search to include Canada because Canada and the U.S. are both countries in North America that share a lot of similarities in demographics. We were able to find one article that highlighted three specific people who are on the ketogenic diet. To provide some insights into the research question, we also used information on the rising popularity of the ketogenic diet as well as the growth of items marketed towards ketogenic dieters as a proxy to show how consumers feel about it in terms of its popularity. Our findings follow below.

CONSUMER THOUGHTS ON THE KETOGENIC DIET

EXPERIENCE AND RESULTS

In October 2017, registered dietitian Kristen Kirkpatrick went on a ketogenic diet for 30 days. By the end, Kirkpatrick experienced weight loss, better fitting clothes, and more satiation/satisfaction instead of hunger because of the diet's high-fat content.

According to an article on Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail, a consumer named Dan McKinnon lost 25 pounds using a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet that was designed to fuel his body using fats instead of glucose. Michelle Holden, who was another consumer on the ketogenic diet reported that her cravings had subsided while nutritionist Danielle Kot who was also on the diet reported that she was happier with better mental clarity and more energy because of the keto diet. Kot also noted that she did not experience constipation as rumored because she replaced "the fiber of keto-shunned starchy, sugary fruits with chia and flax seeds and dark, leafy greens."

HARD THINGS ABOUT THE DIET

When Kristen Kirkpatrick started the keto diet, she experienced challenges that included initial irritability and tiredness that lifted as she advanced through the diet, keeping her protein intake low enough, constipation because of low amounts of fiber, and finding keto friendly foods when eating out or when on the road.

Dan McKinnon experienced what is generally known as the keto flu i.e. he experienced headaches and a lack of energy in the initial days of the low-carb, high-fat keto diet as his body continued to adjust. On the other hand, Michelle Holden found giving up fruit, which is a requirement of the keto diet to be very hard.

EASY THINGS ABOUT THE DIET

Kristen Kirkpatrick found that giving up sugar was not a problem for her even during the tough few days and she usually felt full rather than hungry. Additionally, Michelle Holden found that when on the keto diet, preparation was key to avoiding frustration. In her experience, preparation included having the right ingredients and planning for meals while on vacation.

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS

KETOGENIC DIET IS RISING IN POPULARITY
According to the 2018 Food and Health Survey, 3% of respondents noted that they followed a ketogenic or high-fat diet.
A CNN analysis discovered that in 2017, there were four times as many Google searches for the term keto or ketogenic diet as the year before. In addition, FatSnax and Perfect Keto both experienced rapid growth as the keto diet craze continued to become popular in 2017.

In reference to the 2018 "What's Trending in Nutrition'' national survey, the ketogenic and paleo diets enjoyed a lot of popularity, with the keto diet featuring at number 3 on the diet trend list. On social media, a search for keto returned 5.8 million hits on Instagram in 2018.

A Mordor Intelligence report noted that the global ketogenic diet food market was expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2018 to 2024. This growth was expected to increase the value of the market from $9.08 billion in 2018 to $12.35 billion in 2024.
Among the wealthy participants of Business Insider's New Year's resolution survey, 11.5% said that they were planning to go on the ketogenic diet in 2019.
CONSUMERS ARE GENERALLY UNSURE IF THEY ARE CHOOSING GOOD FOODS FOR THEIR HEALTH
59% of the respondents to the 2018 Food and Health Survey reported that they were doubtful of their food choices i.e. whether they were choosing the right foods because there is a lot of conflicting information on food to eat and food to avoid.
CONSUMERS ARE LIKELY TO LISTEN TO PHYSICIANS WHEN CONSIDERING A DIET
78% of consumers who get dietary input from a doctor or healthcare provider change their eating habits. This insight is important because we can assume that because consumers are so trusting of their doctors and healthcare providers, this factor can affect what they think when it comes to the keto diet.
WHY CONSUMERS CHOOSE DIETS
Registered dietitians that responded to Today's Dietitian's survey "What's Trending in Nutrition" said weight loss is one of the main goals for consumers when they are looking for a diet.
MOST PROFESSIONALS IN THE MEDICAL/NUTRITION FIELD DO NOT THINK HIGHLY OF THE KETO DIET
The ketogenic diet was ranked at number 38 (nearly last) in the 2018 US News Best Diets report. In the 2018 Food and Health Survey, the keto diet came in last on the list of the best diets to follow.

The former president of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Kim Williams cautioned that "no one should adopt the ketogenic diet over the long term—unless weight loss is more important than lifespan." Dr. Williams noted that cardiovascular health statistics were not good as a 53% increase in mortality in the cardiology population that is related to ketogenic diets was reported by the Journal of the American Heart Association.
HEALTH ISSUES OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
The health issues that are related to a long-term ketogenic diet include "increased risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis, and increased blood levels of uric acid (a risk factor for gout)." Possible nutrient deficiency may also arise if recommended foods on a ketogenic diet are not included.
GENERAL BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
Benefits
People who follow the keto diet are often less prone to cravings and have a decreased appetite. Additional benefits include weight loss, increased energy, and mental focus.
A March 2019 study reported that U.S. military personnel that were on a ketogenic diet lost weight and their body composition improved and this happened without any impact on their exercise capabilities and performance.
Challenges

There is a period when people who are on a keto diet experience "hunger, fatigue, low mood, irritability, constipation, headaches, and brain 'fog'.'' The restrictions that are associated with the keto diet make it hard for the diet to be a long-term option.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "The meetings and leader are amazing. I truly enjoy attending and leave with helpful tips and information that helps support me on the journey. I have had difficulty with the phone support and billing. The phone operators are difficulty to understand and don't always provide accurate information."
Quotes
  • "I have been a member since 4/2017 and never once have I felt our leader has been supportive. I attended meetings a few times to realize all she did was read the pamphlets to us—well I can read and it’s not elementary. She even went as far as asking us to be quiet and listen to her one meeting before it started when we were all discussing some food items!"
  • "This is UNCALLED for!!! She did help me get my $$ back for the months I paid. The current leader is not good at all!!! I can’t go to another meeting as she runs them all around us! We have lost so many members because of her! Why doesn’t WW do something about bad leaders?!?"
Quotes
  • "I personally don't go to Weight Watchers meetings because, if "Sex and the City" is to be believed, I'll meet a man, eat half a Krispy Kreme donut with him, and then break his heart because of differences in the bedroom. Actually, I'm mostly just scared of people."
  • "Tons of people find so much joy and support in weekly meetings. If that sounds like you, I urge you to give it a shot. If you're more like me, though, there are lots of online resources that give you the same sense of community."
Quotes
  • "While I think people will get these ads, those looking to lose weight will be slightly offended. As someone who has lost the same 10 pounds many times in my life, I know the struggles of managing my weight. I"