By Keith Wilkinson
Daily mail about half of the adult U.S. population will be obese and about a quarter will be severely obese by 2030, according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study also predicts that in 29 states, more than half of the population will be obese, and all states will have a prevalence of obesity higher than 35 percent. The study’s researchers estimate that currently, 40 percent of American adults will be obese and 18 percent will have severe obesity.
Obesity is fast replacing tobacco as the single most important preventable cause of chronic non-communicable diseases and will add an extra 7.8million cases of diabetes, 6.8million cases of heart disease and stroke, and 539,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. within the next two decades.
Some 32 percent of men and 35 percent of women are now obese in the U.S., according to a research team led by Claire Wang at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York.
Time By this year, 2019, every single U.S. state had an obesity rate higher than 35% except two: Colorado and Hawaii (and the District of Columbia). Ten states were over 45%, and Mississippi, the state with the highest obesity rate, nearly hit 50%,
The data suggest that most of those considered obese will be non-Hispanic black women with yearly household incomes of less than $50,000, reflecting an overall trend showing higher obesity rates among non-Hispanic blacks than among non-Hispanic whites, and among people of lower-income compared to those of higher income. Income, in particular, is a striking factor in obesity; regardless of where people live in the country, lower-income is more likely to be associated with overweight or obesity.
The data highlight’s the urgent need to find even more ways to address diet, exercise and lifestyle factors that can contribute to weight gain, including nutrition education, access to safe places to walk or exercise, and support for avoiding sedentary behavior throughout the day.
Healio If the upward trends in the prevalence of obesity persist, approximately half of Americans will be obese by 2030. Currently, however, the data suggest that 99 million Americans are obese. Using information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers estimated that 65 million more adults will be obese by 2030, bringing the total number of obese Americans to 164 million. Moreover, as the aging population grows, 24 million of these people will be aged older than 60 years.
Further breakdown of statistics in the report shows that, at present, one-quarter of men, regardless of race or ethnicity, are obese, whereas 46% of black women, one-third of Hispanic women and 30% of white women are obese. Projections indicate that prevalence would rise from 32% to 50% among men and from 35% to between 45% and 52% among women between 2008 and 2030.
Burden of disease
As obesity prevalence soars, so will the numbers of people affected by obesity-related health problems, Y. Claire Wang, MD, of the department of health policy and management at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York. If the projections are accurate, health care providers will encounter 7.8 million more cases of diabetes, 6.8 million more cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and 539,000 more cases of cancer in the American population. Simultaneously, health care costs will increase considerably. Annual total costs dedicated to treating obesity-related diseases could potentially reach $66 billion, representing a 13% to 16% increase by 2030, the report stated.
Another issue pertains to the loss of productivity due to obesity-related morbidity and mortality. With escalating rates of obesity, the researchers estimate that 1.7 to 3 million productive years may be lost, potentially costing the economy between $390 to $580 billion.
Wang and colleagues noted, however, that the projections also suggest that a hypothetical program designed to decrease the population’s BMI by 1% may mitigate many of these problems. Although small, this change could prevent 2.1 to 2.4 million new cases of diabetes, 1.4 to 1.7 million cases of cardiovascular disease and 73,000 to 127,000 cases of cancer.
A Worldwide issue
Wang and colleagues highlighted the U.K. as another country hit hard by the obesity epidemic. Similar to the US, the U.K. population is also projected to have an escalating prevalence of obesity during the next 2 decades.
According to the Health Survey for England, 15 million people there are obese currently; by 2030, estimates indicate that 11 million more people will be affected and the total number of obese people will be 26 million, according to the report. These soaring numbers could also lead to extra 668,000 cases of diabetes, 461,000 cases of CHD and 13,000 cases of cancer. Increased health care costs would then reach £2 billion per year, the report states.
“As we look beyond these two countries and examine the similarities and differences across other populations, the availability of high-quality national surveillance data becomes increasingly crucial,” the researchers wrote. “Nevertheless, we hope that our dire predictions will serve to mobilize efforts to reduce obesity so that our predictions do not become reality.”