What Became of Trends We Expected to Shape 2023?

Stonemason“Prediction is difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” Niels Bohr and Yogi Berra both get credit for this pithy bit of wisdom, but the truth is that the proverbial expression has a Danish origin and an unknown author. So now that wit and wisdom emboldens us to look back at the trends we thought would shape 2023 and see how they played out.

Back in January, we named five of them.

1. Hot Debates About Obesity

This certainly seems to have been true, though we didn’t really foresee that pediatric obesity guidelines might become the hottest of all these debates. Rather, we foresaw hot debates about the utility of BMI for defining obesity and the expense of remarkably effective new obesity drugs. We also expected stigma promoted in absurd arguments about where to assign blame for obesity and we were not disappointed.

2. More Attention to Ultra-Processed Foods

Pundits easily fulfilled this prediction, offering up predictions that the 2025 dietary guidelines will surely focus on warning the public away from ultra-processed foods (UPFs). But the truth is that guidance on this subject will be tricky and many questions remain unresolved. Nonetheless, true believers are hard at work, seeking evidence to prove how bad these UPFs are and looking for ways to root them out of the food supply.

3. AI and Retail Healthcare

We expected to see more progress on the application of artificial intelligence for shaping healthcare delivery systems that are more efficient. To be sure, AI has received plenty of attention this year – both hype and words of caution. It may be true that much work is going into AI applications for healthcare delivery, but the assessment of experts is that “AI adoption in health care delivery lags behind the use of AI in other business sectors for multiple reasons.”

At best, we were only half right in predicting that AI would be one of the top trends for 2023 in obesity and health.

4. More and Better Options for Obesity Care

On this prediction – the impact of better options for obesity treatment – this year has more than delivered. Who knew that Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Zepbound would be the hottest topic of the year? Competition is heating up, demand is straining supplies, and many analysts predict that obesity medicines will become the largest drug category ever.

5. Persistent Confusion About Healthy Eating

This one was easy. Nutrition gurus and influencers are much too eager to tell us they have all the answers on “healthy eating.” But all too often, those answers suggest one size fits all and reduce great complexity into absurd (and false) simplicity. UPFs, for example, are not always bad.

FDA is still on its quest for a simple definition of healthy food that will be hold up. This may be an endless quest.

How Did We Do?

Our biggest misses were on AI and the pediatric obesity guideline – one overstatement and one underestimation of an issue. On the rest, the year unfolded much as we expected. Undaunted, we will soon have a look forward to 2024.

Click here for our predictions at the outset of this year.

Stonemason, painting by David Burliuk / WikiArt

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December 11, 2023

One Response to “What Became of Trends We Expected to Shape 2023?”

  1. December 11, 2023 at 10:53 am, David Brown said:

    In this era of hyper-specialized research we are frequently confronted with conclusions based on fragmentary evidence. As Sir Frances Bacon observed, “Instead of real evidence of truth they rest on particular confutations and solutions of every particular cavitation and objection, – breeding for the most part one question as fast as it solveth another; even as when you carry a light into one corner you darken the rest.”