It should be no surprise that the number of overweight and obese individuals world-wide increases annually. What is surprising is the pace at which this increase is occurring. According to Word Health Organization projections, the number of overweight adults will increase by an estimated 700 million, while the number of obese adults will increase by 300 million from 2005 to 2015. While these increases should certainly weigh heavily on the minds of the health-conscious, they should actually do the same for investors.

Potential for Business and Investment Opportunities

Undoubtedly, the number of overweight people is rising, and thus nobody can deny the fact that the number of people endeavoring to lose weight is increasing as well. Adhering to the simple laws of supply and demand, the number of people seeking weight-loss products is bound to rise in turn. In essence, there will be increased demand for the following: healthy food alternatives, health clubs/gyms, weight-loss drugs, weight-loss professionals, general medical professionals, organic/healthier agricultural production, and certainly more.

International Arenas for Investment

Certainly, the US is the fattest nation ever. One in three Americans is in some sort of weight loss diet at any time. Two out of three Americans are overweight or obese, driving the health care cost to $150 billion annually. In 2018, this expense is predicted to more than double, accounting for 20% of the nation’s health care cost. No wonder why obesity has been declared as the number one preventable cause of disability and death.

We, as a global society, tend to view the United States, and the “western world,” as the only areas where obesity is of concern. However, while it is true that obesity risks have caught the attention of the U.S. government and economy, obesity is a focal point on the other side of the world as well.

For example, while China’s middle class has grown exponentially in recent years, so has the appetite of its members. Consequently, the percentage of overweight people has increased, with the demand for weight loss products in hot pursuit. Thirty percent of Chinese adults are overweight or obese. According to Michael Zhang, chairman of Otsuka (China) Investment, sales of health bars made of soy and fruit are growing “really fast, especially to office ladies who are so afraid of gaining weight.”

Weight Watchers, the famous American weight loss program, has already opened its first center in Shangai as more and more health conscious people drive the demand for low-fat foods, and weight loss products. China’s emphasis on getting slimmer is best exemplified by the case of miss Wu Yu’e, a 23 year old engineer who disclosed on Businessweek that physical beauty in women employees is now rewarded with a higher salary.

Clearly, it is not just these individuals, but millions throughout the world who are waging war against weight, and seeking more ammunition. Take for instance Australia, where the Royal College of Pathologists estimates that the annual cost of obesity in that nation alone is a staggering $58 billion. In sum, obesity can be found virtually anywhere, and is costing billions, if not trillions. (Quite a round number, don’t you think?)

Hidden Truths

Did you know that eating 10 extra calories a day results in gaining 1 pound a year? It’s easy for us to rationalize a burger or a dessert when we tell ourselves we are only eating one, or that the sizes are smaller than they were in the past. In actuality, portion sizes have generally grown. Take for example the increase in the average serving size of the following items in the U.S. over the past few decades: hamburgers 112%, steaks 224%, bagels 195%, and chocolate chip cookies 700%. Truthfully, a serving size of red meat should be about the size of a deck of cards rather than the size of your dinner plate. You do the math, but the more you eat, the more you need to exercise in order to maintain, let alone lose weight.

Invest in the Stats

The number of Americans considered overweight is more than 60% of the total population and rising. Meanwhile, it is estimated that this epidemic is costing the nation billions of dollars annually, and the average citizen thousands. A man accumulates $2,600 annually in additional expenses if he is obese. A woman’s extra weight cost her $4,900, almost double. These weight worries are even causing some experts to assert that our children will have a shorter life expectancy than we do. Making matters worse is the sluggish economy, which has caused many to abandon healthier food options for the cheap and convenient “value meals” found on seemingly every corner.

Consequently, obesity is already considered by many experts to be the leading health concern in the United States. Unbelievable as it may sound, obesity has recently surpassed smoking to become the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S. Yet, it should be expected, if one considers that excess weight is linked to more than thirty medical conditions, including: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and arthritis.

Nevertheless, increases in these negative statistics can ultimately lead to profit for savvy investors who seek to gain while others seek to gain by losing. This potential is supported by recent statistics which indicate that, while other types of industry are floundering, there is not a hint of the dreaded “R” word in the weight-loss industry. “Recession” is not a word in the weight loss industry dictionary. In simplest terms, the need for quality weight-loss products and their manufactures only stands to expand in the foreseeable future.

Best weight-loss stock options

As anticipated in light of the recent obesity reports, the shares of several weight-loss/fitness companies have done quite well of late. Weight Watchers (WTW), for one, demonstrated significant gains in 2010 and 2011. Similarly, Nutrisystem (NTRI) has also performed well in recent years. Additionally, the following companies have posted significant gains of at least 15% in the past year: GNC Holdings (GNC), Town Sports Intl Hldgs (CLUB), Vitamin Shoppe (VSI), and Lifetime Fitness (LTM). Certainly, there are a multitude of considerations and decisions to be made before a significant investment, but there are ample favorable options at present.

Using Google’s Insight for Search one can easily conclude that over the years the interest for online weight loss products has increased. As an example, notice the upward trend for the search terms: “Medifast coupon” and “Nutrisystem discount”. While the demand for Nutrisystem products fluctuates within a year, one can safely conclude that since 2006, the number of people who are searching for a Nutrisystem discount has increased by 500%.

Similarly, three times more people are looking for a Medifast coupon today than in 2006.

This upward trend in online searches related to weight loss products is a common theme in many of the market’s niches.

It is quite clear that obesity has become a global constraint and concern, which is what exactly is fueling the weight loss market’s rise. As we all begin to identify this problem and invest in ourselves by losing weight, those who have the means should take this opportunity to invest in the process.

Photo: www.Photoxpress.com

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