Medical technologies

From health risks to economic impacts, obesity takes part in the debate

The therapeutic advances brought by GLP-1 in the treatment of obesity have attracted a lot of attention this year. You may have heard or read that some people are talking about pharmaceutical upheaval. But what exactly are we talking about?

 Published on 14 December 2023


Bastien Drut,
Head of Strategy at CPR Asset Management
Nicolas Picard,
Deputy Head of Global Thematic Equities Department at CPRAM


1. The medical and economic impact of obesity

Obesity and new obesity treatments have hit the headlines in 2023, triggering significant market shifts. In a series of three articles, we will provide some insight on this issue, first by discussing what is at stake in obesity, then by going into greater depth in the medical contribution of GLP-1 drugs, and, lastly, discussing the economic and financial impacts that their possible widespread dissemination could cause. In this first article, we will discuss trends in obesity and its economic and medical consequences.

  • What is obesity?
  • How has obesity trended?
  • Are all types of people affected in the same way?
  • What is the outlook for obesity?
  • What is the health impact of obesity?
  • What are the economic consequences of obesity?

The answers in the first part of our Megatrends special health analysis:


    2. GLP-1: a new therapeutic class of major interest?

    Although GLP-1 drugs have existed for at least a decade, they did not truly hit the headlines until this year. Historically, they have been used mainly to treat type-2 diabetes. Only recently have they been shown to be effective in treating obesity. Two drugmakers are now offering a new generation of these “GLP-1 drugs”, whose effects on weight loss have been spectacular. Lab-produced GLP-1 drugs remain active for a very long time (whereas GLP-1 produced by the body decomposes in a few minutes), which means that patients can be treated with a weekly injection. The purpose of these injections is to “trick” the body into thinking that it has more GLP-1 than it actually does.

    • How do GLP-1 drugs affect the body?
    • How effective are GLP-1 drugs in weight loss?
    • What are their side-effects?
    • How long do the effects of GLP-1 drugs last?

    The answers in the second part of our Megatrends special health analysis:


    3. Economic and financial impacts of the GLP-1 generalization?

    GLP-1 drugs, whose role in fighting obesity we discussed in our previous article, have made a huge splash on the equity markets in 2023. At their peak, GLP-1 “winners” had outperformed the supposed GLP-1 “losers” by more than 100%. While the winners performed well throughout the year, the “losers” sold off when studies came out demonstrating the efficacy of GLP-1 drugs on some comorbidities.

    • Do GLP-1 drugs mean the end of obesity?
    • Two drug stocks have been the big winners
    • A shakeup in the US medtech sector
    • Is consumption of certain foods at risk?
    • What is the impact on insurance companies?
    • An issue of scale
    • An issue of cost

    The answers in the third part of our Megatrends special health analysis:


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