An obesity pandemic: The greatest healthcare challenge of our time

The worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled since the mid-1970s, with over a billion people suffering from obesity today. In the U.S., more than 40% of the population are considered obese. Each year, more than 3 million people die due to complications from overweight or obesity. This is equivalent to the total estimated number of global deaths attributable to COVID-19 during 2020, just every year.

The obesity pandemic we are witnessing today is the result of an increasing number of people having been obese since their 30s and 40s. In the next few decades, we could start seeing the consequences of adults having been obese since they were children or teenagers. In the U.S. today, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among 2-4 year old children is 30%. This growing prevalence of people living with overweight and obesity, and the associated comorbidities, represents one of the biggest challenges for healthcare systems globally.

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A complex, multifactorial disease requiring more treatment options

Obesity and overweight is a complex disease that may be treated by targeting a number of unique metabolic pathways. For many years, the weight-loss medications available have had limited efficacy and/or, for many, been associated with considerable side effects. Since 2021, two new weight-loss medications with better efficacy and safety profiles have been approved. Nevertheless, the treatment rate today is approximately 2%. Thus, there remains a substantial unmet medical need for more and better treatment options for the very heterogeneous population suffering from overweight and obesity. 

We need new treatments based on emerging modalities and mechanisms with the potential to reduce and manage body weight but with better tolerability, to induce more fat-specific weight loss while preserving muscle, and/or that target the many comorbidities associated with obesity.

Below, Adam Steensberg, Zealand Pharma CEO, discusses the obesity pandemic.

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Targeting obesity with differentiated candidates

Our therapeutic approach to obesity and overweight aims to:

  • achieve increased weight loss
  • provide additional effects to address specific co-morbidities
  • improve tolerability
  • offer alternatives to incretin-based mechanisms

Each molecule in our R&D pipeline is differentiated through peptide target, design or formulation.

All our drug candidates are investigational compounds whose safety and efficacy have not been evaluated or approved for marketing by any regulatory authority.

Obesity R&D event

Featured Event

We hosted an event for investors to discuss the scientific rationale and clinical potential of our differentiated product candidates targeting obesity.

Speakers at the event were Adam Steensberg, our CEO; and David Kendall, our CMO and Head of R&D, joined by three leading external experts.

  • Download presentation
  • Watch the webcast
  • Zealand Pharma 1130