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US report

Study predicts 60% of some states obese by 2030

US eating and exercise habits may lead to obesity rates approaching 50% by 2030. Photo: Flickr / zenobia joy
66.7% of Mississippi's population could be obese by 2030
Rise in obesity will cost country hundreds of billions
Education and nutritional standards needed for children, says report

All US states will have adult obesity rates approaching or exceeding 50% by 2030 if current trends continue, costing the economy hundreds of billions in increased health care spending and lost productivity, according to a new report.

The report: “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future”, published by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), estimates that 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60% and 39 states could have rates above 50% within 18 years.

Current adult obesity rates range from 20.7% in Colorado to 34.9% in Mississippi.

Obesity rates for the two states are projected to be 44.8% and 66.7%, respectively, by 2030.

The report, the latest in a series published by the organisations, is the first to include a prospective analysis of future obesity rates.

Financial loss

The report also highlights the costs associated with treating increased rates of obesity and related comorbidities in America, which it estimated to increase by between $48 billion and $66 billion within 18 years.

Obesity could lead to more than 6 million cases of type 2 diabetes, 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer by 2030.

The report also estimates the cost to the US economy due to lost productivity caused by obesity to fall between $390 billion and $580 billion by 2030.

Recommendations

Based on their analysis, the TFAH and RWJF lay out a series of recommendations in the report to curb the growth of US obesity, including nutritional standards for foods and drinks in schools, the protection of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, investment in evidence-based obesity prevention programmes, and making physical education and activity a priority in schools.

“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.”

Simulating a scenario where states successfully managed to lower their average BMI by 5%, the report showed that as well as preventing millions of people from developing obesity-related comorbidities, each state would save between 6.5% and 7.9% in health care costs.

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