switzerlanden
Covid-19 magnifies the need for humanity to go on a diet

Covid-19 magnifies the need for humanity to go on a diet

20-05-2021 | Stunning statistics
Nearly a third of the global population have gained weight since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. On average, those people who gained weight put on 6.1 kg.
  • Jack  Neele
    Jack
    Neele
    Portfolio Manager
  • Richard  Speetjens
    Richard
    Speetjens
    Portfolio Manager

Speed read

  • Restrictions have led a third of the global population to gain weight
  • Humanity already faced a daunting pre-Covid challenge regarding weight
  • Changing consumer preferences offer investment opportunities

What has happened?

The scars left by Covid-19 on people’s health around the globe are numerous and will take time to heal. One of these was highlighted by a recent global survey, carried out across 30 countries, which found that 31% of the global population gained significant weight during the pandemic1. This finding underscores a crucial aspect of the detrimental impact of lockdowns on human health.

Admittedly, weight gain was not homogeneous across countries. In fact, the share of people having gained weight varied considerably. More than half of people gained weight in Chile and Brazil, while they were only 30% to 40% in Peru, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia, USA, Spain, South Africa and Turkey. Meanwhile, in China and Hong Kong, less than 1 in 10 said that they had gained weight.

According to this study, on average those people who gained weight during the pandemic put on an additional 6.1 kg. The largest weight gain was seen in Saudi Arabia, with an average of 8 kg for the 35% of the population who gained weight, and Mexico, with an average of 8.5 kg for the 34% who gained weight.

Climate Series – don’t miss a thing
Climate Series – don’t miss a thing
Subscribe

Why is it important?

Many medical studies have reported the disastrous side effects of Covid-19 – and the measures to fight against it – on people’s health over the past year. These include sharp rises in depression, lack of sleep, anxiety and stress. In this context, widespread weight gain may seem like a minor issue, but it comes as parts of the human population already face severe obesity and overweight challenges.

Figure 1: Large parts of the global population are overweight

Source: WHO Global Health Observatory.

According to the most recent official figures by the World Health Organization, 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and over around the world were overweight in 2016, with 650 million suffering from outright obesity2. From this perspective, the increase in consumer focus on health and well-being, in particular when it comes to nutrition, is likely to continue.

In recent years, many consumers have been shifting their preferences towards healthier and more sustainable diets. They have been cutting down on sugar and on fat, and shifting towards fresher food ,away from widespread processed and packaged goods. Also, many consumers have been eating less meat out of environmental concerns and turning towards plant-based alternatives.

What does it mean for investors?

Given the significant health concerns underpinning them, these shifts in food consumption are likely to shape demand, not for the next four or five years, but for the coming decades. For investors, this means long-term investment opportunities in the companies that will help the transition towards healthier and more sustainable food production and consumption.

In this context, investing in the future of food has become a key focus theme of our Global Consumer Trends equity strategy. While many large incumbent players of the consumer-packaged goods market may be facing stronger headwinds, those with the right strategy to become more sustainable and sell healthier food could in fact benefit from shifting consumer preferences.

Meanwhile, we see investment opportunities in segments, such as plant-based food and beverages, meal kits, and food ingredients. While the number of listed companies remains limited for now, a growing number of players are now emerging from the venture-capital ecosystem and may soon become listed companies.

1 Bailey, P., Purcell, S., Calvar, J. and Baverstock, A., 20 January 2021, “The implications of COVID-19 on our diet & health”, Ipsos Mori.
2 See: WHO, 1 April 2020, “Obesity and overweight” Fact sheets.

Stunning statistics
Stunning statistics

Every month we look at stunning statistics related to trends and thematic investing. What do they mean? What is the impact for investors?

Read all articles
Logo

Disclaimer Robeco Switzerland Ltd.

The information contained on these pages is for marketing purposes and solely intended for Qualified Investors in accordance with the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act of 23 June 2006 (“CISA”) domiciled in Switzerland, Professional Clients in accordance with Annex II of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (“MiFID II”) domiciled in the European Union und European Economic Area with a license to distribute / promote financial instruments in such capacity or herewith requesting respective information on products and services in their capacity as Professional Clients. 

The Funds are domiciled in Luxembourg and The Netherlands. ACOLIN Fund Services AG, postal address: Affolternstrasse 56, 8050 Zürich, acts as the Swiss representative of the Fund(s). UBS Switzerland AG, Bahnhofstrasse 45, 8001 Zurich, postal address: Europastrasse 2, P.O. Box, CH-8152 Opfikon, acts as the Swiss paying agent. The prospectus, the Key Investor Information Documents (KIIDs), the articles of association, the annual and semi-annual reports of the Fund(s) may be obtained, on simple request and free of charge, at the office of the Swiss representative ACOLIN Fund Services AG. The prospectuses are also available via the website www.robeco.ch. Some funds about which information is shown on these pages may fall outside the scope of the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act of 26 June 2006 (“CISA”) and therefore do not (need to) have a license from or registration with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). 

Some funds about which information is shown on this website may not be available in your domicile country. Please check the registration status in your respective domicile country. To view the RobecoSwitzerland Ltd. products that are registered/available in your country, please go to the respective Fund Selector, which can be found on this website and select your country of domicile. 

Neither information nor any opinion expressed on this website constitutes a solicitation, an offer or a recommendation to buy, sell or dispose of any investment, to engage in any other transaction or to provide any investment advice or service. An investment in a Robeco Switzerland Ltd. product should only be made after reading the related legal documents such as management regulations, prospectuses, annual and semi-annual reports. 

By clicking “I agree” you confirm that you/the company you represent falls under one of the above-mentioned categories of addressees and that you have read, understood and accept the terms of use for this website.

I Disagree