The US is already the most obese nation in the world, and thanks to the “Quarantine 15” it is about to get even fatter.
According to a new report in Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, roughly 22% of Americans (based on sample extrapolation) said they gained between five and ten pounds since the coronavirus lockdowns (“within those who gained 5–10 pounds, there was a significantly higher percentage of the total sample who reported they increased eating in response to sight and smell, eating in response to stress, and snacking after dinner compared to those who stated they did not change those behaviors at all.”) In a separate poll of more than 1,000 U.S. readers of WebMD, 34% of respondents said they’d gained weight “due to COVID restrictions.”
As Bloomberg’s Pimm Fox points out, “the reasons for the weight gain aren’t a shock: changes in diet, lack of regular exercise and a generally more sedentary lifestyle.”
The reported weight gains are confirmed by a check of what consumers are buying. In dollar terms, from Feb. 9 to May 3 frozen food sales jumped 36%, snacks gained 36%, alcohol purchases soared 34%, dairy products added 27% and packaged food rose 20%, according to data to the Chicago-based market research firm IRI.
And in a country where every trend can be monetized, investors are already making money from this latest bout of obesity: the Solactive Obesity Index is up 26% in 2020 compared with a decline of 4.7% in the S&P 500. The obesity index has even outperformed the Nasdaq.
Here is a list of the top 20 constituents of the index:
It wasn’t clear what these forward-looking investors are doing with their winnings, but buying more food is certainly among the logical options, thus closing the circle on what may prove one of the most profitable trades of 2020: betting on fat America.
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