U.S. adult obesity rates may exceed 60% in 13 states by 2030

The number of obese adults, along with related disease rates and healthcare costs, are on course to increase dramatically in every state in the country over the next 20 years, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, a report released by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

September 18, 2012

The number of obese adults, along with related disease rates and healthcare costs, are on course to increase dramatically in every state in the country over the next 20 years, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, a report released by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).;

For the first time, the annual report includes an analysis that forecasts 2030 adult obesity rates in each state and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease rates and healthcare costs. By contrast, the analysis also shows that states could prevent obesity-related diseases and dramatically reduce healthcare costs if they reduced the average body mass index of their residents by just 5% by 2030.

The analysis, which was commissioned by TFAH and RWJF and conducted by the National Heart Forum, is based on a peer-reviewed model published last year in The Lancet.

The study found that if obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030, 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60%, 39 states could have rates above 50%, and all 50 states could have rates above 44%. By 2030, Mississippi could have the highest obesity rate at 66.7%, and Colorado could have the lowest rate for any state at 44.8%. According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity rates in 2011 ranged from a high of 34.9% in Mississippi to a low of 20.7% in Colorado.

If states’ obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, the number of new cases of type2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension, and arthritis could increase 10 times between 2010 and 2020—and double again by 2030. In addition, o>besity could contribute to more than 6 million cases of type2 diabetes, 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next two decades.

On the basis of the data collected and a comprehensive analysis, TFAH and RWJF recommend making investments in obesity prevention in a way that matches the severity of the health and financial toll the epidemic takes on the nation. The report includes a series of policy recommendations, including:

  • Fully implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, by implementing the new school meal standards and updating nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages in schools;
  • Protect the Prevention and Public Health Fund;
  • Increase investments in effective, evidence-based obesity-prevention programs;
  • Fully implement the National Prevention Strategy and Action Plan;
  • Make physical education and physical activity a priority in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
  • Finalize the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children Guidelines;
  • Fully support healthy nutrition in federal food programs; and
  • Encourage full use of preventive healthcare services and provide support beyond the doctor’s office.

Report (pdf)

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