Dean Clough

January 12, 2024

Portico Darwin: Heavy Duty


<3 Minute Read

It's Friday, so how about a post on obesity in America? 

No, wait a moment.  Better to let my quasi-hero Scott Galloway do it for me.

The relatively brilliant Professor Galloway annually makes predictions regarding the upcoming year in technology and business.  This year, and on several of his media platforms, he was very bold on one topic in particular, and stated:

GLP-1 drugs will have a bigger impact in 2024 than Artificial Intelligence.

GLP-1 drugs, originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, are now being used to tame obesity.  You've heard the names:  OzempicMounjaroSaxendaWegovy.  No doubt, they are a big deal, but that big?

I don't know.

But I did find Mr. Galloway's various takes on the subject interesting and provocative.  I thought others might, too, so here's my summary of his comments.  What follows is mostly sourced from his podcasts and newsletter; the research and the quoted opinions expressed are not mine.   

Although I may agree with some of them.

  • Of the 260 million adults in America, 70% are either overweight or obese

  • Obesity kills far more than any pandemic has or will and is the #1 preventable source of death

  • The overweight are 2x likely to be depressed

  • This fuels a sector of the economy worth $1.7 trillion, comprising the Food Industrial Complex, hospitals, insurance, Big Pharma, diabetes treatment centers, etc. 

  • It is built around the expectation that people will continue to be obese

  • As obesity has increased from 30% of Americans to 40%, the stock in companies like General Mills, Coca-Cola, and McDonalds have gone up between 7 - 10X

Curious, I did my own research and found this, at the indispensable  Yep, Galloway's right:  the problem was bad and is now awful.

Professor Galloway is quite blunt about the interests many, many companies have in keeping Americans fat and unhealthy.  But he also blames those who enable bad decisions.

Yet despite the provable negatives of the American diet and lifestyle, the far left is encouraging people to find their truth in their obesity.  No, they're finding their diabetes in their obesity.

Galloway fervently believes that's reality, not fat-shaming, and that while there are different body types, some people are simply not in shape and don't take care of themselves.  Paging Bill Maher!

But he's just as adamant there is hope, because an earthquake is coming, one Mr. Galloway believes will disrupt the entire obesity racket, because:

GLP-1 drugs change the human relationship to food and our cravings for it.

If that proves to be true at scale, Galloway's at-times fantastical summary of what happens next might not be that crazy.

  • Users of GLP-1 drugs not only get thinner:
    • they drink less alcohol
    • they bite their nails less
    • they gamble less 
    • they could drive a new baby boom:  lose weight -> feel more confident -> date more -> have a baby

  • Businesses will be impacted - everywhere:
    • It will wreck a bunch of stocks - potentially anything in that $1.7 trillion industry dependent upon people being overweight or obese:  Big Food, Big Alcohol, hospitals, pharma, medical supplies, Weight Watchers, etc.
    • Airlines will save real money:  fuel is a huge expense and lighter people onboard means less will be required (Editor's Note:  it's true)
    • Clothing firms will benefit - as people lose weight, they'll buy new stuff

OK, that's how Professor Galloway sees it. 

But where will these GLP-1 drugs actually take us, economically, and as a society? 

Well, I think it's telling that, to date, these drugs have been prescribed the most in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  As Galloway correctly interprets, that means it's "ladies that lunch" seeking to lose that last 10 pounds taking these drugs now - because they can afford it.

Versus the unhealthy and impoverished living in food ghettos, who perhaps would benefit more, but can't possibly come up with the ten to fifteen grand per year these drugs cost?  

People who are overweight are far more likely to develop diabetes, which, of course, brings on all kinds of other problems.

Especially if you don't have any money.  Here are the 10 poorest states, in terms of GDP per capita.

But will the poor get access to drugs that could make them healthier, but also less valuable, to a $1.7 million industry?

We're about to find out and I'll now make my own prediction:  Access to these drugs, not the drugs themselves, becomes the story.

Or at least it should.


Thank you for reading this newsletter.  


Here's something heavy and new (and Killer):  Ozric Tentacles and Lotus Unfolding

OK, OK, not that new:  the album was released late in 2023, but the new-to-me (and oddly named) band Ozric Tentacles date to the 1980s.  But this all-instrumental album still completely kicks-ass.

About Dean Clough