Health and Well-Being – longer lives, healthier lives
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Health and Well-Being – longer lives, healthier lives

Increases in human life expectancy across the globe have been one of the great humanitarian stories in modern history

At the start of the 19th century, no country in the world had a life expectancy over 40 years old. Now every country on earth does. The average global life expectancy today is higher than the life expectancy in even the healthiest, wealthiest country in 1950.

Life expectancy 1770 to 2021
Life expectancy, 1770 to 2021

Source: UN WPP (2022): Zijdeman et al. (2015): Riley (2005) 

OurWorldInData.org/life-expectency – CC BY

Note: Shown is the “period life expectancy”. This is the average number of years a newbown would live if age-specific mortality rates in the current year were to stay the same through out its life

It is hard to overstate what a break with the past this is. For millennia, people were trapped in short, truncated lives, generation after generation, unless bouts of war, plague or famine intruded to shorten prospects even further. And then everything changed; starting in the 19th century, massive declines in infant mortality, improvements in sanitation and access to clean water, antibiotics and vaccines, improvements in food security, all helped us begin to escape the mortality trap, expanding the canvas of human life for successive generations.

Into reverse – what’s going wrong?

But something appears to be changing again. After several centuries of improvement, gains are slowing, especially in developed countries, and in some cases even reversing.  About a decade ago, life expectancy gains in the UK began to slow meaningfully, before declining during Covid. The Covid era in the US saw the biggest drop in life expectancies in a century, but even before the pandemic, US life expectancy had been dropping, and people in the US now on average live shorter lives than people in Thailand, Costa Rica, or Turkey, despite vastly higher per capita GDP.

There are many things behind this health stagnation: diet, lifestyle, addiction, and even mental health disorders. Poor diets and low levels of exercise have been big factors behind the huge increase in diabetes in the world. According to the World Health Organisation, the number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. That number is forecast to grow to 640mn by 2040. In America, 11% of the population has diabetes. Globally, an incredible 1 in 10 adults is estimated to suffer from it. These are astronomic numbers, and they have terrible health consequences: people suffering from diabetes are twice as likely to die from heart disease or strokes, and in 2019 it is estimated that 2mn people died from diabetes or related kidney diseases.  The key to combating this does not start in a hospital. The next great health leap forward may revolve more around how we live, what we eat, how we exercise.

Deaths from diabetes, by type, World, 1990 to 2019
Deaths from diabetes, by type, World, 1990 to 2019

Source: Bloomberg and company filings, 2023

OurWorldInData.org/life-expectency – CC BY

Healthy eating

We are invested in Kerry Group, a leader in sustainable nutrition, whose ingredients help their customers sell healthier products, which in turn allows people to have healthier diets. Kerry Group is on the cutting edge of the molecular chemistry of food and drink, and has developed a range of sugar reduction technologies, including natural sweeteners and sugar replacers, which reduce one of the key dietary drivers of type 2 diabetes. Their natural sweetener Tastesense Advanced reduces sugar levels in foods and drinks by as much as 50%, so that consumers can retain the flavours they like, without the same attendant health risks. Kerry has developed products that reduce the fat in ice cream, the salt in French Fries, and the sugar in Fanta. These are helping to strip out the raw ingredients that are leading contributors to poor diets, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a whole host of other life-threatening conditions that have slowed down the global drive towards longer, healthier lives.

Addressing antimicrobial resistance

Further up the value chain, new addition to the fund Zoetis is taking steps to secure the health and security of our food supply at source. Zoetis is a global leader in developing and commercialising vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for companion animals and livestock. But its work is also pivotal in promoting human health. Excessive use of antibiotics in livestock can lead to bacteria in those animals becoming resistant to antibiotics, and once those bacteria spread to humans through contact with animal products, they can be extremely difficult and dangerous to treat. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention classifies antimicrobial resistance as an urgent global public health threat that kills significant numbers of people around the world each year.

Zoetis works to keep unnecessary antibiotics out of the food chain, for example by extensively vaccinating animals, removing the need for subsequent treatment with antibiotics. Zoetis also does not sell medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals anywhere in the world. They conduct surveillance for antimicrobial resistance in pathogens that threaten the health of animal species, to help make sure antibiotics continue to work effectively, protecting human health.

Zoetis also understands that animal and human health are highly interdependent. According to the WHO, at least 75% of emerging infectious diseases have an animal origin. Zoetis monitors approximately 200 diseases identified by WHO as being shared between animals and humans, and has developed or supported vaccines for high-impact emerging diseases around the world, including Avian Influenza, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, Canine Influenza, Rabies and Lyme disease. Thus, through its vaccination programmes Zoetis is on the forefront of patrolling the boundaries between animal and human disease.

On your bike

And of course, better health is not simply about what we put into our bodies, but also about how we exercise them. Sitting on the boundary between multiple sustainability thematics, Shimano is the world’s leader in manufacturing gears and brakes for bicycles, and therefore a key enabler of exercise. It is hard to overstate how important this is to healthy living. Dr Peter Attia, an expert in the science of longevity, says: “Exercise is by far the most potent longevity drug…The data are unambiguous: exercise not only delays actual death but also prevents both cognitive and physical decline better than any other intervention.”

Cycling can be a key part of this exercise make-up, with studies showing that regular cycling can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 50%, as well as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Through its R&D leadership, Shimano has a relentless focus on improving the quality, safety, and durability of its products, and has built up a dominant market share and brand positioning within the world of cycling that is almost unique in the consumer space.

The mention of any specific shares should not be taken as a recommendation to deal.  Columbia Threadneedle Investments does not give any investment advice.

A structural megatrend with multiple benefits

Humanity has made strides in health and life-expectancy that would have staggered our ancestors, but there is no space for complacency. Companies will play a pivotal role in developing the foods, pharma and lifestyle products that don’t just patch up illnesses when they appear but help to prevent them from occurring in the first place. We want to be invested in these innovative, impactful businesses, because of the durability of demand for their products and services, but also because they can help lead the drive towards not just longer lives, but healthier ones.

19 September 2023
Harry Waight
Harry Waight
Portfolio Manager
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Health and Well-Being – longer lives, healthier lives

Important Information

For use by professional clients and/or equivalent investor types in your jurisdiction (not to be used with or passed on to retail clients). For marketing purposes.

 

This document is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered representative of any particular investment. This should not be considered an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments, or to provide investment advice or services. Investing involves risk including the risk of loss of principal. Your capital is at risk. Market risk may affect a single issuer, sector of the economy, industry or the market as a whole. The value of investments is not guaranteed, and therefore an investor may not get back the amount invested. International investing involves certain risks and volatility due to potential political, economic or currency fluctuations and different financial and accounting standards. The securities included herein are for illustrative purposes only, subject to change and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell. Securities discussed may or may not prove profitable. The views expressed are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change and may differ from views expressed by other Columbia Threadneedle Investments (Columbia Threadneedle) associates or affiliates. Actual investments or investment decisions made by Columbia Threadneedle and its affiliates, whether for its own account or on behalf of clients, may not necessarily reflect the views expressed. This information is not intended to provide investment advice and does not take into consideration individual investor circumstances. Investment decisions should always be made based on an investor’s specific financial needs, objectives, goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Asset classes described may not be suitable for all investors. Past performance does not guarantee future results, and no forecast should be considered a guarantee either. Information and opinions provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This document and its contents have not been reviewed by any regulatory authority.

 

In Australia: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited [“TIS”], ARBN 600 027 414. TIS is exempt from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services licence under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and relies on Class Order 03/1102 in respect of the financial services it provides to wholesale clients in Australia. This document should only be distributed in Australia to “wholesale clients” as defined in Section 761G of the Corporations Act. TIS is regulated in Singapore (Registration number: 201101559W) by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289), which differ from Australian laws.

 

In Singapore: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited, 3 Killiney Road, #07-07, Winsland House 1, Singapore 239519, which is regulated in Singapore by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289). Registration number: 201101559W. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

 

In Hong Kong: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services Hong Kong Limited 天利投資管理香港有限公司. Unit 3004, Two Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Hong Kong, which is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) to conduct Type 1 regulated activities (CE:AQA779). Registered in Hong Kong under the Companies Ordinance (Chapter 622), No. 1173058.

 

In Japan: Issued by Columbia Threadneedle Investments Japan Co., Ltd. Financial Instruments Business Operator, The Director-General of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (FIBO) No.3281, and a member of Japan Investment Advisers Association and Type II Financial Instruments Firms Association.

 

In the UK: Issued by Threadneedle Asset Management Limited, No. 573204 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, No. 517895, both registered in England and Wales and authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

In the EEA: Issued by Threadneedle Management Luxembourg S.A., registered with the Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés (Luxembourg), No. B 110242 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Netherlands B.V., regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), registered No. 08068841.

 

In Switzerland: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services AG, an unregulated Swiss firm or Columbia Threadneedle Management (Swiss) GmbH, acting as representative office of Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, authorised and regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

 

In the Middle East: This document is distributed by Columbia Threadneedle Investments (ME) Limited, which is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). For Distributors: This document is intended to provide distributors with information about Group products and services and is not for further distribution. For Institutional Clients: The information in this document is not intended as financial advice and is only intended for persons with appropriate investment knowledge and who meet the regulatory criteria to be classified as a Professional Client or Market Counterparties and no other Person should act upon it.

 

Columbia Threadneedle Investments is the global brand name of the Columbia and Threadneedle group of companies.

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Important Information

For use by professional clients and/or equivalent investor types in your jurisdiction (not to be used with or passed on to retail clients). For marketing purposes.

 

This document is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered representative of any particular investment. This should not be considered an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments, or to provide investment advice or services. Investing involves risk including the risk of loss of principal. Your capital is at risk. Market risk may affect a single issuer, sector of the economy, industry or the market as a whole. The value of investments is not guaranteed, and therefore an investor may not get back the amount invested. International investing involves certain risks and volatility due to potential political, economic or currency fluctuations and different financial and accounting standards. The securities included herein are for illustrative purposes only, subject to change and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell. Securities discussed may or may not prove profitable. The views expressed are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change and may differ from views expressed by other Columbia Threadneedle Investments (Columbia Threadneedle) associates or affiliates. Actual investments or investment decisions made by Columbia Threadneedle and its affiliates, whether for its own account or on behalf of clients, may not necessarily reflect the views expressed. This information is not intended to provide investment advice and does not take into consideration individual investor circumstances. Investment decisions should always be made based on an investor’s specific financial needs, objectives, goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Asset classes described may not be suitable for all investors. Past performance does not guarantee future results, and no forecast should be considered a guarantee either. Information and opinions provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This document and its contents have not been reviewed by any regulatory authority.

 

In Australia: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited [“TIS”], ARBN 600 027 414. TIS is exempt from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services licence under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and relies on Class Order 03/1102 in respect of the financial services it provides to wholesale clients in Australia. This document should only be distributed in Australia to “wholesale clients” as defined in Section 761G of the Corporations Act. TIS is regulated in Singapore (Registration number: 201101559W) by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289), which differ from Australian laws.

 

In Singapore: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited, 3 Killiney Road, #07-07, Winsland House 1, Singapore 239519, which is regulated in Singapore by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289). Registration number: 201101559W. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

 

In Hong Kong: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services Hong Kong Limited 天利投資管理香港有限公司. Unit 3004, Two Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Hong Kong, which is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) to conduct Type 1 regulated activities (CE:AQA779). Registered in Hong Kong under the Companies Ordinance (Chapter 622), No. 1173058.

 

In Japan: Issued by Columbia Threadneedle Investments Japan Co., Ltd. Financial Instruments Business Operator, The Director-General of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (FIBO) No.3281, and a member of Japan Investment Advisers Association and Type II Financial Instruments Firms Association.

 

In the UK: Issued by Threadneedle Asset Management Limited, No. 573204 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, No. 517895, both registered in England and Wales and authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

In the EEA: Issued by Threadneedle Management Luxembourg S.A., registered with the Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés (Luxembourg), No. B 110242 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Netherlands B.V., regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), registered No. 08068841.

 

In Switzerland: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services AG, an unregulated Swiss firm or Columbia Threadneedle Management (Swiss) GmbH, acting as representative office of Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, authorised and regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

 

In the Middle East: This document is distributed by Columbia Threadneedle Investments (ME) Limited, which is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). For Distributors: This document is intended to provide distributors with information about Group products and services and is not for further distribution. For Institutional Clients: The information in this document is not intended as financial advice and is only intended for persons with appropriate investment knowledge and who meet the regulatory criteria to be classified as a Professional Client or Market Counterparties and no other Person should act upon it.

 

Columbia Threadneedle Investments is the global brand name of the Columbia and Threadneedle group of companies.

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