The obesity crisis goes global

Now might be a good time to buy Planet Fitness stock, because over half the world’s population will be either overweight or obese by 2035 if trends hold, according to a new report by the World Obesity Federation.

Why it matters: A jump in obesity rates of that size would cost the global economy more than US$4 trillion (or nearly 3% of the world’s total GDP), largely from added healthcare costs and reduced productivity. 

Why it’s happening: People are eating more unhealthy, highly-processed foods and doing less physical activity, according to the report.

  • That’s been true of wealthy countries for years, where obesity rates have grown significantly—64% of Canadians and 68% of Americans are overweight or obese.
  • Now the same trends are poised to impact more people in low-and-middle-income countries, with obesity rates expected to climb particularly quickly among children and teenagers in Asia and Africa.

Yes, but: The forecast could be upended by the rise of effective weight loss drugs like semaglutide—though these are expensive (around $1,000 per month) and unlikely to be affordable for most people in the world anytime soon.