Obesity Rates Prediction: U.S. Will Get Even Fatter

    September 18, 2012

A report released today predicts that by the year 2030, 13 U.S. states could have obesity rates above 60% and 39 could have rates above 50%.

The report, titled F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, was released by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The TFAH is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting citizens’ health and preventing disease. The RWJF is a philanthropic organization dedicated to public health.

According to the report, all 50 states could have obesity rates above 44% by 2030. A CDC report released last month indicates that the current fattest state in America, Mississippi, has an obesity rate of 35%. In the report released today, it is predicted that a full two-thirds (66.7%) of Mississippians could be obese by 2030.

“This study shows us two futures for America’s health,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF CEO. “At every level of government, we must pursue policies that preserve health, prevent disease and reduce health care costs. Nothing less is acceptable.”

As a consequence of the predicted weight gains, the report also anticipates huge rises in the medical costs associated with obesity. It predicts that in 2030 medical costs due to obesity-related diseases could increase $48 billion to $66 billion per year in the U.S., up from the $147 billion to $210 billion the report estimates it already costs the U.S. today. It also estimates that loss-of-productivity costs due to obesity could rise to $390 billion to $580 billion yearly.

“We know a lot more about how to prevent obesity than we did 10 years ago,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of TFAH. “This report outlines how policies like increasing physical activity time in schools and making fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable can help make healthier choices easier. Small changes can add up to a big difference. Policy changes can help make healthier choices easier for Americans in their daily lives.”

In addition to more physical activity, fruit, and vegetables, the report also recommends that public policy be implemented to curb the rise in obesity. It suggests updating nutrition standards for snack food and beverages in schools and raising school meal standards by implementing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act . It also recommends investing in evidence-based obesity-prevention programs, making physical activity a priority for Elementary and Secondary education, and implementing other legislation related to nutrition, public health, and marketing food to children.

The report based its projections on a model published in The Lancet in 2011, using data from the CDC. Adults are currently considered obese if their body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher.