The diet industry profits by offering items that promise to reduce the body’s weight and size. Within contemporary culture, women and dieting are almost synonymous, with retail analyst organisation Mintel reporting that ‘today, just 5% of women claim to never think about their weight’.
This weight preoccupation is created by an industry that, in the UK, is worth £2bn. The weight loss market’s global value is expected to reach £220 billion by 2017. Within the UK the fasting 5:2 diet is the most popular, preferred ‘by four in ten (39%) diet followers.’ This is closely followed by low carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins (32%), credited by Kim Kardashian West for the loss of her baby weight.
The latest nutritional trend, however, are diets that are high in protein. Ironically based upon similar principles as the low carbohydrate plan, these have replaced the Atkins revolution of the previous decade. 25% of British dieters favour a high protein diet such as the 2010 Dukan, which was allegedly followed by the Duchess of Cambridge prior to the Royal wedding.
Protein is also the favoured macronutrient of the fitness world, with numerous Bikini models uploading post-gym selfies complete with neon Smartshakers and Quest bars. According to one newspaper, ‘[i]t’s estimated that by 2017, the world will be spending £8bn a year on shakes and bars.’
Diet and fitness companies profit from the fit, slender body ideal by offering weight loss solutions that are unsustainable over long periods of time. This ensures that women return to buy their products. Low carbohydrate diets, for instance, can cause rapid weight loss, yet the rate of this loss decreases as the body adapts and metabolism lowers in order to compensate for lack of nutritional energy. Most diet products promise a solution, yet fail to counsel women on the bigger picture. A protein bar may help to build muscle and reduce body fat, yet only if it is part of a nutritional plan that takes into account various other dietary and lifestyle factors…