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Obesity, Weight Loss and the Ozempic Effect: Impact on Various Business Chains

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Lifestyle change has become a growing trend in our society. As interest in health, weight loss, and well-being grows, so do searches for products and businesses that promote these values. The drug Ozempic is just the tip of the iceberg in a complex chain, affecting several sectors and companies given the promise of weight loss and combating obesity. How do reduced appetite and eating urges affect my business model? This text analyzes changes in eating habits and their consequences for the health and lifestyle industry.

Recently, we witnessed Novo Nordisk, the company behind the Olympics, become the most valuable in Europe, surpassing fashion giants such as LVMH and owners of brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Sephora. The Danish pharmaceutical company's shares rose 40% in one year, reaching a market value of US$428 billion. This demonstrates that health and weight loss can be excellent business opportunities. However, it is essential to understand how weight loss and combating obesity can impact various sectors, including automobiles, aviation, supermarkets, and retail.

A woman hands her bag to a staff member to be weighed ahead of a flight in Auckland, New Zealand; A woman stands on scales to be weighed ahead of a flight in Auckland, New Zealand

Source: Daily News

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Ozempic, Weight Loss and the Impact on Business Strategies

Consider now the impact of weight loss on the retail and fashion industries, such as the Louis Vuitton Group. This directly impacts the beauty industry in the short and long term. Demand for skincare and makeup products may increase as people feel more confident after weight loss. The fashion industry also benefits, as people concerned about their aesthetics tend to invest in fashion, cosmetics, diet, and weight loss products. In the long term, this could change preferences and beauty standards, affecting the types of products and treatments sought after.

Recently, Maurício Benvenutti, leader of StartSe and author of books on business innovation, drew attention to airlines weighing their passengers before boarding. This strategy, although controversial, aims to control weight distribution on aircraft for safety reasons. However, imagine the impact of reducing the population's average weight when traveling. With a healthier population and lower average weight, aircraft can consume less fuel, resulting in operational cost savings for airlines. A study by Jefferies Financial, using United Airlines as an example, showed that losing 10 pounds per passenger could result in savings of $80 million per year. This estimate is part of a broader Jefferies analysis of public enthusiasm for the drug and the potential beneficiaries of its use.

In the longer term, we may see a possible adaptation of aircraft interiors to accommodate slimmer passengers, providing a more comfortable travel experience. Additionally, baggage weight policies could be reviewed as airlines adjust their fares and allowance policies to reflect the new passenger profile.

In the automotive sector, a healthier population aware of the importance of exercise could reduce demand for higher-capacity vehicles, such as SUVs, as people opt for more active modes of transportation, such as walking, running, or riding a bicycle. This could also lead to a shift in design preferences, with consumers opting for lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Ozempic is even impacting the coffee moment in companies, influencing large urban centers, commercial buildings, and street vendors. Food delivery companies, such as iFood, and food trucks, are also feeling this impact as demand for healthier products grows, requiring more excellent care in preparation, in contrast to traditional fried options. This results in a diminished appetite for what is available at the food stalls on every street corner. Internally, at companies, we can anticipate a reduction in costs related to health insurance due to a healthier population, fewer medical certificates, and an increase in investment in prevention services and products that promote employee health, such as Gympass.

Past Experiences and Lessons Learned from Health Promises

Increased sales of appetite-suppressing drugs such as Ozempic and Mounjaro significantly impact the business models of several companies. Giants like Walmart are considering incorporating these drugs, originally intended to treat diabetes but now increasingly used for weight loss, into their business strategies. These decisions will have long-term implications, and the pressure to make good decisions is high. History teaches us that overreactions can happen, as with the olestra craze of the 1990s, which flooded food shelves before being discarded due to its unpleasant side effects.

The Atkins diet, popular in the 2000s, is an instructive example. This diet boosted an entire category of products, including low-carb ketchup, ice cream, and soda. However, when the diet's popularity waned, companies like General Mills had to reevaluate and change direction. Today, the Atkins diet experience may provide valuable lessons as analysts recalibrate their projections based on the expected impact of GLP-1 analog drugs on weight loss. A survey revealed that more than 40% of GLP-1 analog users eat less in restaurants and reduce their orders. About 70% of them are eating less overall and are more aware of the nutritional benefits of food. These changes could negatively affect packaged food companies, but the question remains whether these new eating habits continue after drug use wanes.

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Future Challenges and Opportunities with Ozempic

The World Health Organization warns that obesity is one of the most severe health problems we face. It is estimated that by 2025, 2.3 billion adults worldwide will be overweight, with 700 million suffering from obesity, characterized by a body mass index (BMI) above 30. In Brazil, the numbers are alarming, with the obesity rate predicted to reach 33% by 2030, compared to the current 13%.

Although weight loss has already impacted several sectors, the numbers indicate that obesity and overweight continue to increase. The opportunity here is to understand how our business can adapt to this change in mentality and behavior in the short, medium, and long term. We must look at different markets and consider how our company can remain healthy, regardless of the population's burden.

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