Weighty Matters

The promise of GLP-1 drugs goes far beyond individual weight loss.

2024 is upon us. We hope that the old year concluded well, and that you are all excited about the possibilities offered by the new one.

January witnesses a seasonal surge in gym memberships. The trend is founded on new year’s resolutions and the guilt of holiday binges. According to Statista, exercising more, eating in a healthier manner and losing weight are three of the top five goals that people establish as the calendar turns over.

But I am wondering whether I will see the same crowds on the treadmills this year, and in the years ahead. The advance of the new generation of appetite suppressors has become a game changer for many who struggle with their weight. The economic consequences of the new drugs could be profound.

A number of countries around the world struggle with high rates of obesity. The condition is associated with greater risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and some cancers. The consequences for those afflicted can be severe; the consequences for societies are high medical costs, reduced labor force participation and less-than-optimal allocations of capital. A 2020 study from the Milken Institute estimated that the costs of obesity in the United States run close to 7% of gross domestic product.

Obesity Rates