According to a new study by independent market analyst firm Datamonitor, women struggle with weight problems more than men, and about one-third of Australian women will be obese by 2014. Datamonitor also predicts that 7.3 million people will be obese in Australia by 2014.

Mark Whalley, analyst at Datamonitor said, “It is surprising that despite intense government campaigns and continual media attention around healthy eating, obesity levels are continuing to rise. This attention may have led to information overload as our research has shown that although 42% of consumers are interested in reading or hearing about the relationship between food and weight, this has dropped by 7% since last year.”

The outlook is bleak for the hospital system, but tantalising for the massive Australian dieting industry. Whalley believes part of the problem can be blamed on a backlash against diet programs and their misleading marketing.

“Tackling obesity is challenging due to an inherent lack of trust, as consumers are highly sceptical towards weight loss products and the motives of the industry as a whole. Many consumers have tried and failed with weight management regimes and direct this frustration towards the industry. There is a perception that companies are capitalising on a societal problem for their own gain and that they are more focused on generating revenue than creating products which are genuinely effective.”

Melanie McGrice, spokesperson for the Dieticians Association of Australia, tells Marketing magazine that consumers need to look beyond marketing and research.

“Australians spend billions of dollars on weight loss each year. There’s a huge range of programs out there, but I think that people need to very wise about which weight loss program they use. Some are great and some are dodgy. Marketing can obviously influence people’s decisions about which type of program they go for, but I would be encouraging people to, rather than just look at testimonials and advertising, just make sure there are some safe measures behind it. I’d be making sure there’s an accredited dietician involved in the program, that doesn’t cut out any of the core food groups, and something that isn’t offering the world, but is offering long term solutions.”