The fight against obesity will be a major investment trend for the next 25-50 years, a report by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch says, listing 50 companies in areas from healthcare and pharmaceuticals to food and sports that could benefit.
Worldwide obesity has more than doubled to more than 500 million people since 1980 and keeps increasing, according to the World Health Organization. The related costs to public health and the economy are skyrocketing.
"Obesity may be the most pressing health challenge facing the world today and efforts to tackle it will shape thinking by policymakers and in boardrooms around the world," says Sarbjit Nahal, equity strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. "Global obesity is a mega-investment theme for the next 25 years and beyond."
In the food sector, the report ranks some 20 companies on the basis of how they could access a global "health and wellness" market it estimates at $663 billion, and how they are prepared to respond to increasing pressure to reduce sugar and fat levels in food products.
The sports sector "is the longer-term play, but we believe that promoting physical activity will become a key priority for more government health policies," the report says.