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Wall Street ‘Obesity’ Fund Could Make Your Wallet Fatter

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Junk foodPhotograph by Dwight Eschliman — Getty Images

In the never-ending quest to have your cake and eat it too, one investor has come up with a potential solution. Janus Capital Group (JNS), a Denver-based investment firm managing $191.3 billion in assets, launched four new exchange-traded funds (ETFs) filled with weight loss and health-related stocks.

There is the Obesity ETF, which comes with the tagline “Invest in the Battle Against Obesity” and the ticker symbol “SLIM.” Then there is Janus’ Health and Fitness ETF, with the ticker “FITS,” whose motto implores investors to “Invest in our Passion for Fitness.”

Of course, you don’t have to share Janus’ passion for fitness, nor fight fat personally, to invest in the funds. Shareholders are welcome to stay home eating cake while hoping they make money on other peoples’ weight loss struggles. Indeed ETFs are inherently designed for lazy investors, as they are not actively managed—meaning even Janus itself won’t be busy trading the stocks in the funds, which mirror an index designed by a different firm.

The top holding in the Obesity ETF, accounting for nearly 20% of its portfolio, is Novo Nordisk (NVO), a Danish pharmaceutical company specializing in treatments for diabetes, a disease associated with obesity. Nike (NKE), meanwhile, makes up a similar percentage of the Health and Fitness ETF as its biggest position.

Janus’ other new products include the Organics ETF (Whole Foods (WFM) is its largest holding) and the Long-Term Care ETF (with ticker “OLD,” it invests in senior housing companies and biotechs developing drugs for aging-associated diseases). The funds follow a recent spurt in ETFs created to track certain stock niches, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector, such as the BioShares Biotechnology Clinical Trials ETF (BBC) andVan Eck Global’s Market Vectors Generic Drugs ETF (GNRX), which just started trading in January.

The new funds could attract investors seeking to be more selective in their biotech and pharma investments, as broad-based industry ETFs have recently performed terribly due to concerns about drug price regulation. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) is down 19% year to date, while the iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF (IHE) has fallen 8%. If only the average investor could shed pounds as easily as biotech stocks have shed value.