In a press briefing held May 7, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared updated data on the projected obesity rates for Americans by 2030. Previous studies have projected a 51% rise in obesity based on a continued level of the growth rates seen in the last three decades. While it is clear that obesity rates will continue to rise, the new CDC report shows that the rates have slowed and we can expect a 33% rise in obesity. This still means that 42% of the population will be considered obese by 2030. Additionally, the numbers of the severely obese—those carrying 80 or more pounds more than the healthy, normal weight for their height—is expected to grow by 130%.
The CDC forecast took into account factors thought to influence Americans’ eating and exercise habits, including the cost of groceries, the density of restaurants, rates of unemployment, Internet access, and the price of gas. Most important, however, was the aging of the population, which tends to nudge many overweight adults into the obese category, and to push a growing number of those who are already obese into “severely obese” territory.
By the most current obesity statistics, 35.7% of American adults (78 million people) and 16.9% of U.S. children and adolescents (12.5 million kids) are obese, meaning their body-mass index is 30 or over. The new projections capture several trends in American society: the swelling population of Latino adults, among whom obesity is a growing problem, the transition into adulthood of a population of obese children who stand a high likelihood of becoming obese adults, and the aging of overweight and obese adults, who are far more likely to take on more weight than to lose as they get older. For women, the report showed that the obesity rate was flat. Currently, 35.8% of American women are considered obese, and the forecast does not predict a significant change in that level.