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If Obesity Rates Continue over Half of All Americans will be Fat Featured

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fat Uncle samIf obesity rates continue to follow current trends, more than half the population of almost 40 states will be obese in 2030, according to a report by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report estimates that in 2030, Mississippi could have the highest obesity rate at 66.7%, while Colorado would have the lowest at 44.8%. Currently, obesity rates top out at 34.9% in Mississippi and bottom out at 20.7% in Colorado, according to the CDC.

In 13 states six of every 10 residents will be obese, and all 50 states would have rates topping 44%.
"If we take action, the number of Americans, particularly children, we could spare from type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems is striking, and healthcare costs savings and increased productivity would have a tremendous positive impact on the economy," Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Jeff Levi, PhD, executive director of Trust for America's Health, wrote in the report.

Those potential gains in obesity would translate to increased disease rates as well, with the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and arthritis potentially rising 10 times between 2010 and 2020 -- and possibly doubling again by 2030, according to the report.

And annual healthcare costs associated with treating these preventable obesity-related diseases could rise by $48 billion at that point, to $66 billion per year, with an estimated annual loss in productivity between $390 billion and $580 billion, according to the report.

However, if states can reduce the average adult body mass index (BMI) by just 5%, only 24 states would have obesity rates of 50% in 2030, and thousands of cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and arthritis could be prevented per 100,000 people in each state, the researchers found.

Hitting that target could also reduce healthcare costs, with almost every state saving between 6.5% and 7.8% in obesity-related healthcare spending. That equates to savings ranging from $81.7 billion in California to $1.1 billion in Wyoming, according to the report.

The report calls for greater investment in obesity prevention, including making physical education a priority in schools, new school meal standards, new healthy nutrition in federal food programs, and encouraging the use of preventive healthcare services.

The groups also expressed support for a range of proposed federal programs including the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the National Prevention Strategy and Action Plan, and the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children Guidelines.

"We really cannot afford as a nation to allow our obesity rates to grow," Lavizzo-Mourey said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Levi, who also was on the call, said that government efforts should encourage better eating habits by various means, such as making farmers’ markets accept food stamps or providing incentives for buying healthier foods with food stamps so that people’s money goes further.

"A lot of this is about making healthier choices easier and not making it mandatory," Levi said. The city of Philadelphia took similar approaches and saw the obesity rate among its school-age children recently drop from 21.5% to 20.5%, he noted.

Addressing the issue will take a multifaceted approach, Lavizzo-Mourey said. "There's not a silver bullet."

Reference:  Trust for American's Health "F as in Fat: How obesity threatens America's future" RWJF & TFAH 2012.

Last modified on Saturday, 09 November 2013 10:22
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