Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman lamented the epidemic of obesity in the US after viewing a video from 1930 showing predominantly thin people in New York City.
Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, reacted to a clip posted by an X account showing New Yorkers at a newsstand in Manhattan nearly a century ago.
“Take a look at New Yorkers in 1930 after a decade of economic exuberance,” Ackman wrote on his X social media account on Sunday.
“There were no gyms, SoulCycles, yoga classes, or running shoes.”
Ackman noted that people in those days didn’t have access to Ozempic.
“Yet, look at how lean everyone is,” he wrote. “There is no obesity.”
Ackman blamed “the food and soft drink industrial complex” as well as “our government’s oversight of our citizens’ health.”
He said that “sugar and high fructose corn syrup consumption” was “likely” the culprit.
Ackman’s post on X generated thousands of comments, some of which were from people who noted that while people today are generally more obese, they also have a higher likelihood of living longer.
According to federal government statistics, life expectancy at birth in 1930 was 58 years for men and 62 for women.
Last year, life expectancy in the US was 79 years.
Roughly one-third of adults in the US were obese as of 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
That’s up from a about quarter of US adults in 2011. Some experts project that half of all US adults will be obese by 2030.
By comparison, just 13% of the population in the US was considered obese in the early 1960s.
The burgeoning rates of obesity have fueled demand for anti-diabetes drugs that have been used to shed pounds such as Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro.
The global market for anti-obesity medications reached $6 billion last year and could grow to $100 billion by 2030, according to forecasts by Goldman Sachs.
Others responded to Ackman by noting that there were other differences in our lifestyle compared to 100 years ago.
“There were also no (or far less) sedentary lifestyles,” commented pollster Frank Luntz.
Sahil Bloom, an entrepreneur, noted that junk food costs less than healthy food.
“It was expensive to become overweight,” Bloom wrote. “Now it’s cheap to become overweight.”