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More shoppers than ever are making New Year's Resolutions to lose weight. But how many are actually sticking to the plan? Here's how natural retailers can help.

During my years as a buyer for a natural products industry retailer, we referred to January as “weight loss season” for good reason: our sales of anything tied to weight loss, no matter how remote, would skyrocket during this time frame.

Just as your local gym is packed to the rafters for the start of each New Year, so are the weight loss aisles at natural food stores. Sadly, the fact that this is predictable each year shows how few people really succeed at their annual quest.

Some data to put this in perspective:

First, Reuters reported this past Tuesday that about one in three adults and one in six teens are obese.  These figures have not changed in the past several years. Although obesity is widespread, the fact that rates have not risen appreciably in the past decade is a bit of good news.

Contrast these numbers with the fact that 83 percent resolved to eat better in 2012 and 76 percent have resolved to eat better in past years, according to Supermarket News, a sister publication to Natural Foods Merchandiser. Of those who have made this resolution in the past, 33 percent did report improving their eating habits permanently.  (Good for them!)

Of the rest:        

  • 1 percent never started (after making a resolution)
  • 19 percent never started and didn’t make a resolution
  • 7 percent started and dropped off quickly
  • 31 percent stuck with it for at least a few months

Shoppers look to your health store for their weight loss solutions, putting you in a unique position to change these dropout rates for the better.

The journey from slim to large takes time—and the journey back will take time, as well. Help people reach their goal by providing encouragement, recipes, nutrition and health information. Consider what you're offering in terms of consumer education (both seminars and literature), what info is on your signage and your website, and what you're putting out on social media and your e-newsletters.

Has your store been successful at helping shoppers stick to their New Year’s weight loss goals? Please share them here in the comments.

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