Overweight Epidemic in the United States
According to a report published this year by Trust for America’s Health (co-written by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Group), by the year 2030, obesity rates within the United States may reach an unprecedented 44 percent.
Within 13 states, it’s been forecasted that 60 percent obesity will be exceeded. Of those states, 10 are located in the south, one of which – Mississippi – obesity levels are expected to rise to as much as 66.7 percent, which will make it the worst state on record.
For now however, Colorado claims the lowest levels of obesity (20.7 percent of the populace), and Mississippi the highest (35 percent of the populace).
Only 20 years ago, no North American states had an obesity rate of more than 15 percent of the populace, according to the report.
But there’s more. Because of the continual climb in rates of obesity, upwards of 6 million new type 2 diabetes sufferers are expected, in addition to 5 million coronary heart cases, and a further 400,000 cases of cancer related diseases.
The cost of treating obesity-related disease is expected to grow to between $48 billion and $66 billion annually.
The report also concluded that if those most at risk of suffering obesity were to reduce their average body mass index (BMI) by as little as five percent, then it would mean that by the year 2030, no state within North America would reach above the 60 percent obesity rate, and obesity-related health issues would drop considerably.
Nevertheless, should nothing be accomplished in order to stop the growing trend, then, also by the year 2030, a total of 39 states would witness obesity rates at above 50 percent of the populace. Besides Mississippi, the states predicted to have the highest rates of obesity are Oklahoma (66.4 percent), Delaware (64.7 percent), Tennessee (63.4 percent) and South Carolina (62.9 percent).
If the average BMI by state were to drop by 5 percent, then for every 100,000 people there would be a reduction of 3,200 type 2 diabetes cases, a reduction of 2,900 coronary heart disease and stroke cases, a drop of 2,500 high blood pressure sufferers, a decrease of 1,380 arthritis sufferers, and 277 less cancer cases.
Most states would then be able to save a great deal of money on their health care budget – between 6.5 and 8 percent each year. To give this some level of perspective, for California alone that would total a saving of no less than $81.7 billion US dollars in a single year.
The report concluded with a number of suggestions on how people can in fact help themselves in order that the huge levels of obesity do not become a reality. Exercise on a regular basis – a stroll around the local park is far better than nothing, the report suggests, and a more healthy diet with a greater amount of fruit and vegetables and less in the way of unhealthy fast foods and greasy fry-ups.