Case 3 Business and the global obesity epidemic: who made us fat?
One of the biggest health concerns in the 21st century is the spread of obesity across the world. At one time purely a Western phenomenon, one of the West’s most successful exports to the emerging markets has been obesity. As diets change, China, for example, has the biggest growth in diabetes in the world. The link to business is complex. On the one hand, ethical and social responsibility mandates urge companies to play a part in combating obesity (helping people change their diets, for example). Yet, on the other hand, the obesity business is worth billions and many businesses have a vested interest in sustaining an obese population (as a vast and growing market, for example, for medications addressing the symptoms of obesity-related medical conditions). On the one hand, there are many business opportunities, but, on the other, a huge dilemma for companies.