More than one-third of adults in the U.S. are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A report by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says that by 2030, that figure could grow to 42%. Add another 18% of children ages 6-19 considered obese, and we’re talking about a multi-billion-dollar epidemic.
That also means a huge opportunity for investors.
Here’s how. At least three industries, and key stocks in each, stand to benefit from the long-term fight against obesity: healthcare (testing/treatment of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension), weight management (dietary programs and physical activity); and pharmaceuticals (the so-called magic bullet).
This market is bigger than many realize. The term “obese” may bring to mind the 500-pound talk show guest, but that’s not the case. It only takes an extra 30 pounds to be classified as obese and to garner health risks. It ultimately comes down to having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, meaning you have too much fat.
30 million affected by diabetes
Obesity contributes to increased rates of more than 30 serious diseases. The most common, Type 2 diabetes, affects about 30 million people and is linked to excess fat and a sedentary lifestyle.
Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, states, “the annual health care costs in the United States stemming from obesity are approaching $240 billion,” or more than 20% of this country’s total medical bill. If the rate of childhood obesity stays constant, that figure could grow to $957 billion by 2030.
The sheer number of obese and the health care markets that cater to them mean a number of angles in for investors. Here are key industries and leading stocks: