The dieting industry has changed dramatically throughout the years.
Once-successful companies like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are now seeing sales plummet, as consumers shift away from diet plans and instead embrace body positivity, according to a Mintel report cited by NPR.
“Dieting is not a fashionable word these days,” Tufts University nutrition and psychiatry professor Susan Roberts told NPR. “Consumers equate the word ‘diet’ with deprivation, and they know deprivation doesn’t work.”
But consumers are still inundated with images and information about “lifestyle trends” — or newfangled versions of diets — that mesh better with today’s obsession with health and wellness.
Here’s how the dieting industry has changed.
People have long sought ways to be thin. Here's an old advertisement on reducing 'surplus flesh' and improving your figure.
People have also resorted to quick fixes -- like the 'grapefruit diet.' Apparently, people have been doing this since the 1930s.
SlimFast diets offered an easy fix for a while. The diet debuted in 1977, but became very popular int the '90s.
Today, people still look for quick fixes -- but they're often under the guise of health, like juice cleanses.
Some people are engaging in what's called 'souping.' The New York Times declared that 'souping is the new juicing' earlier this year. (That is, provided you can afford it.)
In fact, in late 2015, the company completely rebranded itself to be about 'well being' and not just about 'dieting,' DigiDay reported.
'We were so closely linked to dieting. That's really not where women are in America when they think about food today. They want health their way, with their own choices. And the brand really wasn't reflecting that,' Julie Lehman, Lean Cuisine's director of marketing, said to Digiday.
The company has even launched campaigns encouraging girls to 'filter out' the word 'diet.'
Processed, low-calorie snacks were all the rage not too long ago. Who could forget 100 calorie packs, which was extremely popular in the mid to late 2000s?
The Whole 30 diet also forbids calorie counting. The method involves eating natural foods (sans dairy or legumes or grains). Many people post impressive before and after photos from this method on social media.
'Low fat diets' were once popular, too. This helped the Subway Diet, which consisted of eating only Subway sandwiches, rise to success in the early aughts.
Dr. Mark Hyman of 'Eat Fat, Get Thin' now advocates the benefits of eating fats, like avocado and olive oil.
Mayo Clinic notes that it was founded in 1972 by cardiologist Robert Atkins. The diet was extremely popular in the early 2000s, and sparked a debate if carbs do, in fact, make you fat.
Paleo advocates criticise Atkins for its processed snacks, too.
Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide encourages people to eat multiple servings of carbs a day -- and the before and after photos on her Instagram page are still pretty impressive.
Weight Watchers -- which debuted in the 1960s -- is known for its famous 'points system' -- though not all health experts condone it.
'Weight Watchers' guidelines for healthy eating are simply unhealthy,' Dr. Joel Furhman wrote in a blog post, 'and not supported by the most updated nutritional science.'
Additionally, the company's packaged goods are antithetical to how many people focus on natural, real foods versus empty calories these days.
This isn't just about Oprah's viral 'I Eat Bread' campaign -- it's about how Weight Watchers has changed its approach to dieting.
With its 'Beyond the Scale' program, it aimed to shift the company's focus on just weight loss.
'The way we think about it is that we used to have a very narrow focus on weight, and now weight is one of things we focus on but it's not the only thing,' Weight Watcher's Chief Scientific Officer Gary Foster said to Time. 'The consumer sentiment is, 'I still want to lose weight but I'm thinking about in a more holistic way.'' The company's Instagram even shows off a healthier lifestyle versus simply its packaged foods.
But soda companies have been trying to appeal to people's desire for wellness by selling diet soda made with stevia and real sugar.
'Consumers are not dieting in the traditional sense anymore -- being on programs or buying foods specific to programs,' Mintel analyst Marissa Gilbert said to NPR. 'And there's greater societal acceptance of different body sizes.'
While that's good news for any brand promoting those programs centered around general wellness, it's bad news for those who relied on old, tired standards.
Of course, there will always be outliers and people looking for a quick fix. However, for the most part, the way people view dieting has changed -- which is good because apparently, fad diets don't often work in the long run.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.