investment viewpoints

Will obesity become a curable disease?

Will obesity become a curable disease?
Henk Grootveld - Head of Trends Investing

Henk Grootveld

Head of Trends Investing

An established class of diabetes drugs could hold the key to solving the obesity crisis. Their new use as an obesity treatment could be highly lucrative for the companies that produce the medicines, in our view. This also has the potential to reshape the healthcare industry.

We explore these developments in the Q3 issue of Futureturns, our quarterly report on trends investing in equity markets.


Need to know

  • GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) has been used for many years to treat type 2 diabetes. Given it also lowers patients’ weight, the drug is now being repurposed as an obesity treatment

  • The surge in obesity and excess body weight could cost the global economy more than USD 4 trillion in 2035, or almost 3% of GDP, according to the World Obesity Atlas 2023. Treating obesity as a potentially curable disease could reduce healthcare expenditures substantially over time, in our view
  • Novo Nordisk is currently the only pharmaceutical company authorised to distribute GLP-1 as an obesity treatment, but competitors including Eli Lilly are close behind1


Exponential growth

Obesity is an epidemic that has caused an explosion in healthcare costs across the globe, and the situation is likely to worsen. None of the existing treatment options – lifestyle interventions, medications, surgery – has proved to be bulletproof.

We do the maths to show why the new class of obesity treatments seems to provide an exponential growth opportunity that could bring significant economic benefits. We also point out the caveats and challenges. We are not ready to compare the impact of obesity drugs to the smartphone – at least not yet.

Download the Q3 issue of Futureturns.



[1] Any reference to a specific company or security does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or directly invest in the company or securities. It should not be assumed that the recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities discussed in this document. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

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