How "Progress" Created a $174 Billion Epidemic

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Two things happened you should know about: food got cheap and work got easy.

Sounds simple when put like that, but it was enough to change the world. Consider a personal example...

On my family's farm in Kansas, my grandfather's wheat crop was considered good if it made 10 bushels to the acre. It was planted largely by hand and harvested the same way. Bringing in the crop took two weeks of back-breaking, sunrise-to-sunset labor.

Today, because of agricultural advances, that same bottom ground, which is still in our family, can grow 70 bushels an acre. Bringing in the wheat crop still takes nearly two weeks, but it's more tedious than back-breaking. And now my family plants more than 10 times Grandpa's original quarter and still harvests it with half as many people. That's helped the price of consumption plummet.

And because of the advances, I didn't have to hang around the farm to get a job. I don't till the land or run cattle. I make a living in an office, behind a desk. Most days I don't do anything more physically strenuous than chew. I am productive, but I am nevertheless effectively sedentary. I'm in nowhere near the shape that Grandpa Ted was when he was my age, nor am I in as good a shape as my family members who stayed on the farm. Like I said, work got easy. They call it "progress."

My story isn't uncommon. In the early 20th century, the USDA says, nearly half the country worked in agricultural production. Today, it's less than 1%.

As the Chief Strategist behind Game-Changing Stocks , I'm always on the lookout for what I call "game-changing" situations. These are instances where a major shift is taking place. I've found these shifts are usually accompanied by spectacular opportunities to profit.

You just read about two game-changing shifts -- technology has brought us both cheap food and easy work.

And that's leading to another shift... and an opportunity to profit. Cheap food and easy work are the new reality. And unfortunately, that means diabetes.

Fourteen million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease. Another six million have it and don't know it, and -- astonishingly -- another 41 million have pre-diabetes -- overtaxed metabolisms combined with poor eating habits and a lack of exercise. Diabetes in this country, and around the world, is a ticking time bomb.

Even now, the cost of the disease is already astronomical. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says the national cost of the disease in the U.S. alone exceeded $174 billion in 2007. (Health stats take forever to collect, so those three-year-old stats are the best we have.) The ADA's estimate includes $116 billion in medical costs like drugs and doctor's visits and hospitalizations, and $58 billion from sick time. I've been a Type I diabetic (juvenile onset, thought to be genetic) for 30 years. I can attest to just how easily this disease can keep you from a day's work.

I wouldn't wish diabetes on anyone; I can tell you firsthand, it's a lousy burden to carry. But from an investment standpoint, this medical condition is just about perfect -- it has a huge and growing patient base. Those patients can live a relatively normal and long life, every day of which will require them to consume diabetic supplies, and there is no cure on the immediate horizon.

Usually when I find game-changing opportunities, it's in a nascent field. The discovery usually comes with plenty of small companies sitting on the edge of a breakthrough -- think of how Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) changed the game when it came to something as simple as renting a movie.

But in the case of diabetes, many of the firms are larger. Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY ) and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ ) are working on potential blockbuster drugs called SGLT-2 inhibitors. And Medtronic ( MDT ) makes the gold standard in insulin pumps and should see a nice bump in business as the diabetes epidemic grows.

Action to Take --> These aren't the tiny up-and-comers that I've made a living off of discovering, but when it comes to investing, you can't argue with profits.

If you're interested in game-changing stocks, I think you'll love my latest report -- The Hottest Investment Opportunities for 2011 . From tiny nuclear power plants that can be buried in your lawn, to revolutionary pain killers made from cobra venom, I'm convinced these game-changing ideas could take off in the coming year. To get briefed on these opportunities, and several others that I think could return many times your money, please read this memo.


--Andy Obermueller

Andy spent a decade as a financial journalist writing for some of the largest newspapers in the nation. His acumen helped guide the financial news read by over a million people each day. Read more...

Disclosure: Neither Andy Obermueller nor StreetAuthority, LLC hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

© Copyright 2001-2010 StreetAuthority, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


This article appears in: Investing , Investing Ideas

Referenced Stocks: BMY , JNJ , MDT , NFLX

Andy Obermueller

Andy Obermueller

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