There’s opportunity for entrepreneurs to meet the needs of overweight Americans.

By Rieva Lesonsky


Obesity is a big problem in America and one we all need to take seriously. As someone who’s been on a diet for more years than I care to admit, I can attest that losing weight and maintaining that loss is a constant struggle.

The hartbeat Scribe from The Hartman Group reports that Americans today are heavier than they were in the 1960s. According to The Centers for Disease Control  (CDC), the “average American woman now weighs 166.2 pounds,” which is essentially identical to what American men weighed in the 1960s. This is up more than 16 pounds from what the average women weighed back then. The average American man weighs 195.5 pounds, up from 166.3 in the 1960s—a nearly 30-pound jump. And while both men and women have grown (on average) taller since the 1960s, that isn’t enough to make the weight increase OK. The CDC says 69 percent of adults over the age of 20 are either overweight or obese. In addition, more than 20 percent of teens (ages 12 to 19) and about 18 percent of children (ages 5 to 11) are considered obese.

But with adversity comes opportunity. There are a lot of industries this obesity epidemic impacts.

  • If you own or are starting a restaurant, think about offering tasty but healthier choices. At least give customers an option.
  • As unhealthy as we may be, as we’ve reported before, more Americans than ever are taking yoga classes. What keeps many overweight people away from yoga studios and gyms is the potential embarrassment of not being able to keep up with the rest of the class. Consider offering classes with routines tailored for overweight people as a gateway to more mainstream exercises.
  • We’ve also reported before on the surge in demand for fashionable plus-size clothing for men, women and kids. This need still exists and can easily be met by starting with an online store. (Less overhead than opening a brick-and-mortar store.) In apparel niches, there’s also been an increase in demand for plus-size exercise clothes, bridal wear and accessories.

These are just a few examples of the opportunities out there.