Soda bans or not, the United States’ obesity epidemic is showing no signs of slowing down. By 2030, at least half of all Americans in 39 states may be obese if today’s trends continue unchecked, according to a report released this week by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Titled F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, the report draws upon existing government data and self-reported surveys to conclude that the majority of Americans in most states will be considered obese in less than 20 years. The obesity rate for all states would be at least 44 percent.
Besides the obvious negative implications that obesity has on health and wellbeing, the predicted rates may also have a tremendous impact on the country’s economy, the study’s authors say.
The report estimates that if current trends keep their current pace, medical costs associated with treating obesity-related diseases could increase by as much as $66 billion per year by 2030. The country could also stand to lose between $390 billion and $580 billion annually for lost economic productivity as sick days and job absenteeism are likely to increase.
The authors write:
If we could lower obesity trends by reducing the average adult BMI (body mass index) by only 5 percent in each state, we could spare millions of Americans from serious health problems and save billions of dollars in health spending — between 6.5 percent and 7.8 percent in costs in almost every state.
Some however, think that the alarming nature of the report might be exaggerated, especially given the CDC’s finding that obesity rates have actually stabilized in recent years.
“This is a strong assumption," economist Justin Trogdon of RTI International told Reuters. "Recent evidence from other surveys suggest obesity rates may be leveling off.”
Read the entire report here (PDF).
Image: Natesh Ramasamy/Flickr
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