Wellness trends to watch for in 2024: The Ozempic ‘ripple effect’ and more

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The new year means new opportunities for wellness trends. After a year dominated by mental health discussions, COVID variants and weight-loss drugs hitting the market, we’re looking toward 2024 and what health topics will capture consumers most.

To get an idea of what we might see, we asked experts in different corners of the health and wellness space what they expect to make waves in the year ahead.

The Ozempic “ripple effect”

Experts expect to see a resurgence in weight loss-focused trends in 2024 prompted by drugs like Ozempic becoming more mainstream.

Celebrity endorsements helped the new weight-loss drugs gain traction. Their popularity also appears to have spurred interest in supplements making weight-loss claims, like berberine, touted online as “nature’s Ozempic” — even though the evidence doesn’t really back it up.

“Ozempic will create even more ripple effects throughout food, beverage and dietary supplement markets in 2024,” says Frank Jaksch, CEO at bioactive ingredient company Ayana Bio. “I expect that we’ll see an increase in products that contain berberine.”

He also expects that “snack-makers and fast-food chains will offer smaller portions and more nutritious, wholesome ingredients that match the preference changes with Ozempic and piggyback off of this latest wave of health-conscious consumers.”

After a few years of chipping away at diet culture and leaning into movements like body positivity, attitudes may be shifting. A recent Forbes Health/OnePoll survey found the top New Year’s resolution for 2024 is back to physical health — with the majority of respondents citing fitness as a top resolution — after a few years of mental health occupying the top spot.

Smart tech takeover

While millions of Americans have been sporting smartwatches to track their exercise, sleep and other health metrics for a few years now, experts predict 2024 will bring a new level of wearable health tech.

“Wearable devices and smartwatches will continue to move beyond monitoring and add more screening features to warn us of health issues before they become bigger problems,” predicts Christine Lemke, co-founder and CEO of health data company Evidation. “The functionality of these devices will continue to transition from passive to proactive.”

Artificial intelligence, which is already being incorporated into some health settings, will also become a bigger player next year.

“Your ‘second opinion’ may come from a computer instead of a physician, as our ability to analyze vast datasets and harness AI advances,” Lemke adds.

Shift to science

Misinformation will no doubt persist in 2024, but experts say consumers will look more consciously toward wellness strategies backed by clinical studies and research.

“Consumers will expect science-based, performance-proven products and services,” according to Mindbody and ClassPass’s annual prediction report.

In 2024, the report says, “consumers will become increasingly savvy about what they put on their bodies and who they listen to for advice, prioritizing research and expertise.”

Forecasters believe the same goes for wellness-focused social media.

“The increasing awareness of social media’s negative effects on the mental health of young people is likely to lead to a more discerning approach to consuming mental health content online,” says Nicholette Leanza, a licensed professional clinical counselor with mental health care company LifeStance Health. “As a result, young people will likely shift their reliance on online content from non-credentialed influencers to licensed professionals for accurate diagnoses and effective counseling.”

Increased focus on social connections

Whether it’s in-person therapy sessions or participating in group sports, experts are seeing an increased desire for connection in the new year following years of pandemic-induced isolation that has taken a toll on our mental health.

“Social activities are appreciated on a greater level than before,” says Bob Wright, director of lifestyle education at Hilton Head Health. “Isolating increases baseline stress, and therefore baseline inflammation. It can also increase risk for anxiety, depression and other mental health related challenges. Many people got a dose of these isolating symptoms over recent years and are craving more opportunities for healthy socializing.”

The huge popularity of pickleball is the perfect example of the desire for more social fitness, says Teddy Savage, national lead trainer at Planet Fitness.

“(It) brings people together in social settings that allow them to have fun while getting a full body workout,” he says. “It’s the connection between exercise and functional movement and the desire to connect socially in community settings that make this one so magnetic.”

Leanza has also seen an increasing demand for in-person therapy sessions, especially among Gen Z patients.

“This shift reflects a desire for more authentic and engaging therapeutic experiences, leveraging the benefits of face-to-face interactions — I expect to see a continued uptick in this in 2024,” she says.

Looking toward longevity

Health trends with staying power — like a focus on plant-based eating, sleep health and gut health — point to a continued desire to live better for longer, which experts say will remain a priority in 2024.

“Some of the next trends we see will fall under the umbrellas of longevity and self-care,” says David Chesworth, program director and exercise physiologist at Hilton Head Health. “In general, the concept of longevity has been, and continues to be an overarching hot topic. In fact, many of the (previously mentioned) trends that have emerged over the past few years have been elevated by this.”

In addition to nutrition and sleep, some people are turning to exercise to help them live longer. As Mindbody and ClassPass’s report points out, “nearly 30% of consumers say they exercise to live long and healthy lives and over one third of consumers strength train for longevity specifically.”

Another necessary element of self-care and longevity? Rest and recovery, which Savage has also seen an increased focus on.

“This one really exploded with things like the cold plunge,” he says. “People are seeking out cutting edge ways to treat their body after working out or just diving deeper into the internal benefits of cold therapy and restorative techniques.”

Temperature therapy is also a growing trend, according to Mindbody and ClassPass’s report, which notes that the rise of combination treatments — those that utilize both hot and cold — is likely next in the pipeline.

Rest and recovery are even making their way into the travel industry with “wellness tourism,” the idea of travel focused on health and well-being.

“We see more people seeking out trips focused on things like yoga, breathing techniques, skill development, recreation, self-care, aging gracefully and incorporating joyful and stress-free activities,” Chesworth says.

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