Investing in Obesity

Investment analysts have been bubbling over with advice for years about investing in obesity. And much of the advice has been pretty unrealistic, looking at new drugs, devices, and services as potential breakthroughs that might solve the problem once and for all.

That’s not how it works with a complex, chronic disease like obesity.

Outdated thinking about obesity as a personal problem rather than a medical one is slowly giving way, and as it does, the medical systems for dealing with obesity are taking shape. AMA has declared that obesity is a disease. Health plans, with a little nudge from Obamacare, are starting to pay for more forms of treatment. Hundreds of obesity medicine physicians are earning a new, rigorous specialty certification every year. But it’s slow, and coverage for obesity drugs has been particularly slow.

Sean Williams of the Motley Fool says the sales of new obesity drugs:

… have been nothing short of disappointing, given the magnitude of this disease. However, my explanation for the weakness in anti-obesity drug sales is that few insurance companies thus far have been willing to latch onto these drugs as coverable. That could be about to change, though, with the American Medical Association declaring obesity an official disease in late June. Once insurance companies begin covering Belviq and Qsymia, sales of the two drugs could soar. While neither is incredibly expensive, consumers are just that insistent on not paying for either drug with out-of-pocket cash.

He goes on to say that there’s no reason both of Qsymia and Belviq can’t be successful, but he also advises that investing in solutions to maintain good health for people with obesity may be equally or more important as the market develops for treating obesity.

This will be a long slog, not a quick win — just like any other chronic disease. But the magnitude of the problem is great and thus the opportunities for investment returns may well be, too.

Click here, here, and here to read more from the Motley Fool. Click here to read more from Forbes.

Health Is Wealth, photograph ©rafael rozendaal / flickr

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