Nearly half of Americans predicted to be obese by 2030

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 1, 2012

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If obesity rates continue on their current trajectory, it is estimated that more than 44% of adults in the United States will be obese by 2030, which is up from the 35.7% who are obese today, said a report published Sept. 18 by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Such an increase would lead annual medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases to surge by an estimated $48 billion to $66 billion per year by 2030, according to the report.

But if the average body mass index level in each state could be reduced by 5%, chronic disease would be prevented in millions of Americans, and each state could save billions of dollars in health care costs. For a 6-foot-tall person weighing 200 pounds, a 5% reduction in BMI would be the equivalent of losing about 10 pounds, the report said.

For this study, researchers assessed weight data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. They found that adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and did not decline in any state.

The obesity epidemic continues to be most dramatic in the South, where nine of the 10 states with the highest adult obesity rates are located. Mississippi maintained the highest adult obesity rate for the seventh consecutive year (34.4%), and Colorado had the lowest rate of 19.8%. Colorado is the only state with a rate lower than 20% (link).

To help reduce obesity in the U.S., the report recommends that policymakers at all levels increase investments in effective, evidence-based obesity prevention programs and expand opportunities to promote physical education and physical activity in schools. The report also suggests that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expand the scope of health professionals who are eligible to be reimbursed for services for intensive behavioral therapy for obesity.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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