Healthcare Technology Featured Article

April 25, 2014

Is the Secret to Weight Loss Online?

One of the most profitable industries in the market today is focused on obesity and weight loss. Everyone is searching for the magic pill or solution to rid them of extra weight once and for all. Outside of the need to eat better and get active to lose weight, there are tons of options – from vitamins and pills to special diet plans and ‘magic’ foods – all promising to be the answer.

If you look at the most successful businesses today in this field, they are typically centered on offering tools to users in addition to personal counseling and dietary suggestions. Companies like Weight Watchers, which leads the pack, and even the popular free app MyFitnessPal, have millions of people using their online and mobile offerings. They have been successful because they are able to build a community and following of people who share their successes and tips with others across the globe.

The move to the online world hasn’t just broken barriers for business users, but for communications and the reach of information as well, which is now unending. If someone posts a video, photo or blog of their weight loss success and how they did it – and that goes viral online – chances are sales of whatever helped them get there will also increase.

Image via Shutterstock

While Weight Watchers does have a huge following, market trends and the state of the economy show a rise in the popularity of free online and mobile tool alternatives promising to offer the same weight loss assistance for no cost. This segment is being label as D-I-Y dieters. 

Last year, Marketdata Enterprises research uncovered that this market segment was up 82 percent in 2012.

As the move to online and the mobile world flourishes, one business that has a 40 year track record providing weight loss solutions is also making its own pathway to connect with DIY customers.

Nutrisystem Inc. announced the launch of NuMi – what the company is calling a digital weight loss system targeted at DIY dieters who want the freedom to diet by their own means without being stuck to rigid food lists and limitations.

The interactive tool combines nutritional, emotional, and physical elements for on the go users. This is the stand-out function of their solution over others crowding the market, the company said.

Specifically, the new approach focuses on “Responsive Dieting,” so users are getting a tool that adapts to their personal lifestyles and goals based on information they are tracking with the tools.

"We developed an interactive system that is far more than a prescribed diet, tracker or calorie counter. NuMi is designed for today's DIY dieters as they go about their daily lives - whether they're at home or at a restaurant, in the mood to exercise or feeling sluggish, looking to lose five pounds or 25 pounds," said Aditi Gokhale, senior vice president & general manager Digital at Nutrisystem.

Other features of the offering seem like your standard fitness tool inclusions: meal planners, suggestions for dining out, the ability to connect with fitness gadgets and trackers, etc. But one offering stood out to me – I haven’t heard of other companies offering this element – though I may be mistaken. NuMi offers on-demand live chat with coaches for those who would like to connect for one-on-one mentoring whenever they need it.

The NuMi app can be used via a desktop or smartphone and is currently available for download in the iTunes App Store with Google Play Store availability coming soon.

Now is a good time to be in the market and improving services to reach more users. According to IBISWorld, by 2015, 75 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese. This coupled with a growing disposable income and deteriorating health will push the market for weight loss services to grow over the next five years. 

Edited by Alisen Downey
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