united kingdomen
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

Please read this important information before proceeding further. It contains legal and regulatory notices relevant to the information contained on this website.

The information contained in the Website is NOT FOR RETAIL CLIENTS - The information contained in the Website is solely intended for professional investors, defined as investors which (1) qualify as professional clients within the meaning of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), (2) have requested to be treated as professional clients within the meaning of the MiFID or (3) are authorized to receive such information under any other applicable laws. The value of the investments may fluctuate. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investors may not get back the amount originally invested. Neither Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. nor any of its affiliates guarantees the performance or the future returns of any investments. If the currency in which the past performance is displayed differs from the currency of the country in which you reside, then you should be aware that due to exchange rate fluctuations the performance shown may increase or decrease if converted into your local currency.

In the UK, Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. (“ROBECO”) only markets its funds to institutional clients and professional investors. Private investors seeking information about ROBECO should visit our corporate website www.robeco.com or contact their financial adviser. ROBECO will not be liable for any damages or losses suffered by private investors accessing these areas.

In the UK, ROBECO Funds has marketing approval for the funds listed on this website, all of which are UCITS funds. ROBECO is authorized by the AFM and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority are available from us on request.

Many of the protections provided by the United Kingdom regulatory framework may not apply to investments in ROBECO Funds, including access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Service. No representation, warranty or undertaking is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information on this website.

If you are not an institutional client or professional investor you should therefore not proceed. By proceeding please note that we will be treating you as a professional client for regulatory purposes and you agree to be bound by our terms and conditions.

If you do not accept these terms and conditions, as well as the terms of use of the website, please do not continue to use or access any pages on this website.

I Disagree